The number of human West Nile cases in Hamilton is the highest it has been in 10 years, and may prove to be the highest ever.
With 15 confirmed or probable cases so far and the season still going, “we have definitely had our busiest year ever” when it comes to humans being infected by West Nile, said Susan Harding-Cruz, the city's manager of West Nile and rabies control.
Hamilton hasn't seen 15 human cases of the virus since 2002. There was also a horse with the virus reported in Glanbrook this week. That hasn't happened in 10 years, Harding-Cruz said.
“There are different theories, but it looks like it's based on the weather patterns we had last year into this year,” she said.
“Even though the abundance of mosquitoes is not that high, (the weather) has driven up the virus level in the mosquitoes.”
So far this year, there have been 32 positive mosquito pools found in the city's West Nile mosquito traps.
The highest number — 11 — has been found in lower east Hamilton, which goes from Ottawa Street to Centennial Parkway, and from the escarpment to the shore of Lake Ontario.
There have been two in Dundas, three in west Mountain, four in central Mountain, one on lower west Hamilton, four in lower central Hamilton and seven in lower Stoney Creek.
Three of those were in the last week.
In Ontario, 2002 was a record year for West Nile, with 394 cases and 19 deaths. As of Sept. 8 this year, there have been 158 confirmed and probable cases.
So far, there have been no reported deaths due to the virus.
The season is not over yet, Harding-Cruz said. The monitoring program typically goes until the second week of October, when the weather cools and the number of mosquitoes declines.