A mysterious illness that's sickening and even paralyzing children is prompting warnings this week from federal health officials to seek medical care immediately should anyone develop its symptoms.
Cases have been reported in 22 states, including some in our area.
The condition is not new, but the CDC said it saw an increase in cases beginning in 2014.
The cause of most of the AFM incidents is unknown, according to the CDC, as are the long-term effects.
Some victims have been infected with viruses, but researchers have been unable to identify a single virus responsible for all cases.
Doctors don't know much about AFM and the lack of answers is what is worrying Doug and Mary Finke.
Messonnier said the CDC has definitively ruled out polio - which causes a similar set of symptoms - as the cause.
Follow-up with patients from the 2014 and 2016 waves has shown that most children do not recover from acute flaccid myelitis, for which there now is no cure.
Viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders are among the suspected causes of the illness, which often begins with fever, respiratory issues and muscle weakness.
"Poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".
The overall rate of AFM is fewer than one in a million, she said.
"We know that some patients diagnosed with AFM have recovered quickly and some continue to have paralysis and require ongoing care", Messonnier said, noting how most have a "sudden onset of weakness".
For example, the CDC doesn't know who may be at higher risk for developing AFM or why some are at higher risk, she said.
They also know that all six children developed the disease around the same time.
Health experts are working to gather information on the North Dakota case, but confirmation could take weeks.
"As we work to better understand what is causing AFM, parents can help protect their children from serious diseases by following prevention steps like washing their hands, staying up to date on recommended immunizations and using insect repellent", Messonnier said.
"Early intervention is definitely always helpful".