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At least six children in the state have been diagnosed and hospitalized with acute flaccid myelitis (or AFM) since September 20.

AFM is an illness that affects the nervous system, specifically the area of spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak.

And in 2018 alone, 38 new cases of AFM in 16 states across the country were confirmed by the CDC.

Without a clear cause, it's not possible to say whether more children will be diagnosed with AFM, Ehresmann says.

The Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm if the children have AFM.

The illness may be rare but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 362 cases of acute flaccid myelitis in the US between August 2014 through August 2018.

Now there is no treatment for AFM, and the exact cause is unknown.

"If their child gets an enteroviral infection, they need to look for symptoms such as sudden onset of arm and leg weakness, difficulty swallowing".

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During the 2014 national spike in AFM cases, Minnesota had three cases, and since then has averaged about one case per year.

AFM mainly affects children, for reasons which remain unclear. After a diagnosis is made, health providers and investigators try to retrace the path of the illness to its source.

"This includes cases of meningitis, encephalitis, and acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) as well as children experiencing myoclonus (abnormal muscle jerking) and ataxia (loss of balance)". There is no known cause or cure but it may be related to the virus that causes the common cold.

The number of cases of the illness, also known as AFM, is the highest in the state since 2014, when there were three reported cases, the health authorities said.

Between August 2014 and August 2018, the CDC received 362 cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

If parents see potential symptoms of AFM in their child, (for example, if he or she is not using an arm) they should contact their health care provider as soon as possible.

Currently, there is no specific treatment for AFM, but doctors might recommend certain interventions, depending on the case. These include washing hands frequently to limit exposure to germs, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing and staying home when feeling sick.

The CDC recommends getting children vaccinated against the poliovirus, as well as protecting against bites from mosquitos (which carry the West Nile virus).