Patrons of restaurants began reporting flu-like symptoms, gastrointestinal distress including vomiting and diarrhea, and severe dehydration. Reported deaths included 10 elderly, 2 adults with immunodeficient disorders, and 1 child.
The reports ranged across the entire state, with cases reported from Westerly to Woonsocket and everywhere in between. The vector for the disease appeared to be having had a meal at a restaurant, as no cases were reported by individuals consuming food prepared in private or shared residences.
In March 2006, a spokesperson affiliated with the RI Health Department reported that the outbreak was a mutating strain of Norovirus. Health inspectors were sent out to every restaurant in the state shortly afterward.
Due to these inspections, the number of cases drastically decreased during the month of April, there were still some isolated cases, with the last verifiable connected case reported in mid May.
Research into the cause of the mutations continued well into June, with no known reason being found.