Rhode Island reports increased flu activity

The top public health official in Rhode Island recently said that influenza has become widespread throughout the state.

State health director Michael Fine said that Rhode Island is seeing an increase in flu activity that is in step with increases in flu activity across the country. The public declaration is considered an initial step in responding to influenza, according

Rhode Island healthcare workers who have not been vaccinated are now required to wear surgical masks when dealing with patients.

State records indicate that more than 30 people have had to be hospitalized since the beginning of October because of flu-like symptoms.

Regionally, the southern United States has seen the largest upswing in influenza activity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports.

The Mississippi State Health Department said that flu season began nearly a month earlier than usual. Mississippi tracks flu activity by working with healthcare providers throughout the state. Influenza is not considered a reportable illness, so not all diagnoses are collected.

"We are seeing widespread influenza activity throughout the state," Mississippi state epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said, reports. "Seasonal flu usually peaks from January to March in Mississippi, but infections can be seen before and after peak season."