Dear Georgia Southern Students, Parents, Faculty & Staff,
I want to take this opportunity to inform you via the information below of health-related issues across the state, nation, and internationally, that we are continuing to monitor. Thank you for taking the time to consider the information below. I will send out updates on these and other issues as they become available. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance.
Brian M. DeLoach, M.D.
Acute Flaccid Myelitis
What is AFM? Nationwide, there has been an increase in reported cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) since August 2018. AFM is a rare but serious condition affecting the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs. Symptoms can include acute onset of facial droop/weakness, drooping eyelids, difficulty moving the eyes, and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech. Rarely, AFM can cause numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, and difficulty passing urine. Some patients might have difficulty breathing due to muscle weakness and need ventilator support.
Who gets AFM? Most reported cases in the US have been in children, but AFM may affect any age group. From January 1 through November 7, 2018, three confirmed AFM cases have been identified in Georgia along with one probable case, and three other cases are currently pending clinical review.
What causes AFM? There is no known single cause of AFM. The condition can be caused by a variety of germs (including viruses), environmental factors and genetics. In some cases, the cause may not be identified.
How is AFM treated? There are no specific treatments recommendations for AFM. Cases typically are referred to neurologists and other specialists who treat diseases affecting the brain and spinal cord.
How can AFM be prevented? There is no single, specific cause of AFM. However, since AFM can develop as a result of a viral infection, taking basic steps to avoid infections and to stay healthy are recommended, including:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a disposable tissue
- Stay at home if you are sick
- Stay up to date on all required and recommended vaccinations
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites if you are spending time outside
What should you do if you think you have AFM? If you develop potential symptoms, you should contact your health care provider as soon as possible so that a proper evaluation can be performed.
Where can I learn more about AFM?
– Visit the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website for more information on AFM in Georgia: https://dph.georgia.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis
– Visit the CDC’s website for more information on AFM in the U.S.: https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/index.html
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk of serious flu complications. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot each year. You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.
Get your flu shot from Health Services Pharmacy or at one of our flu shot clinics.
Flu shots are available on the Armstrong Campus via walk in at the Health Services Clinic
Zika is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. Sexual transmission has also been documented. The primary concern regarding Zika is that the virus can cause a birth defect called microcephaly in a developing fetus. The CDC continues to have a Level 2 Travel Alert in place for areas in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. A Level 2 Alert indicates that the CDC is recommending that travelers to those areas practice enhanced safety precautions. For more information about Zika, including specific recommendations for persons traveling to or returning from a Zika-affected area, see https://www.cdc.gov/zika/
Last updated: 11/9/2018