This year appears to be shaping up as a record year for West Nile Virus in Hamilton.
Sixteen human cases of West Nile have been confirmed in the city, according to Hamilton Public Health Services. That number reflects cases of the mosquito-borne virus reported as of Sept. 24.
There haven't been more than 15 confirmed cases of West Nile in Hamilton since 2002, which was also a record year in Ontario with more than 394 cases and 19 deaths.
As of Sept. 18, there were 189 cases of human cases of West Nile Virus in Ontario.
That's up from 158 cases as of Sept. 11.
No deaths have been reported from the virus thus far.
The reason for the number of cases seems to be weather related.
"There are different theories, but it looks like it's based on the weather patterns we had last year into this year," said Susan Harding-Cruz, the city's manager of West Nile and rabies control.
"Even though the abundance of mosquitoes is not that high, (the weather) has driven up the virus level in the mosquitoes."
Of the 16 cases reported in Hamilton this year, four people have been hospitalized as a result of infection, said Harding-Cruz.
"Two were released and are recovering at home," she said. "The last two cases are in hospital and because of that would be considered serious."
While the cooler fall weather may affect future cases, Harding-Cruz said we're not out of the woods yet.
"There is a time [lag] between when a person is bitten by a mosquito and when they show symptoms, which can be between two to 15 days," she said.
Symptoms of West Nile include a range of symptoms of varying seriousness, from fever to encephalitis or meningitis. In extreme cases, West Nile can prove fatal. For information on how to protect yourself from West Nile, go to City of Hamilton—West Nile Virus (link: http://www.hamilton.ca/HealthandSocialServices/PublicHealth/WestNileVirus/)