LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV)-A second person has died from West Nile virus in Arkansas and the number of cases has risen to 23.
It starts with a simple mosquito bite and 80 percent of those who contract West Nile virus show no symptoms. However, 20 percent do feel its effects.
The West Nile virus is a virus that is typically transferred from birds to mosquitoes to humans and that's where the public health concern comes in. Doctor Gary Wheeler who serves as the branch Chief of Infectious Disease for the Arkansas Department of Health says the numbers are up and so is severity of the virus.
"We are beginning to see a significant upswing as with the states around us where the most severe episodes are."
So far Arkansas has seen nearly 2 dozen West Nile cases this year. Most of them in Central Arkansas.
Doctor Wheeler says the majority of those infected experience flu-like symptoms.
"A lot of them will just have fever, they'll have aches and pains, really bad headache and that will be the limit to their infection."
Then there are the rarer, more fatal cases says Wheeler.
"Some people have really severe symptoms and those are what we call encephalitis, meningitis. About two thirds of the patients will have a form of encephalitis, about one third will have a pure meningitis syndrome."
Dr. Wheeler says those patients may feel stiffness of the neck, have a profound headache and with encephalitis patients become confused and irritable.
His says those symptoms are a call for concern.
"I think the really important thing is when you have the most severe headache you've ever had in you life, that family members notice that someone is confused and not acting normally or becomes irritable and they also have the fever and aches and then they need to see a physician."
Dr. Wheeler says the best way to avoid West Nile virus is to drain any water from around your home and simply wear bug repellant.