Minnesota health officials have confirmed another nine cases of West Nile virus in the state over the past week.
The new cases bring the state's total to 44 for the year, including one death. Nationwide, nearly 1,600 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been reported.
Minnesota Department of Health epidemiologist Dave Neitzel says the number of new cases should start to decline later this month. He said the final 2012 total should be well below peak West Nile years.
"It'll probably be somewhere in the middle of the pack," said Neitzel.
New cases of the mosquito-borne illness will probably start declining later this month, he said.
"I anticipate over the next two to three weeks the number of reports coming in will still remain high," he said. "As we get into September, I anticipate that as the mosquito numbers begin to decline, that we will see a decline in the number of new cases."
The highest number of cases came in 2003, when the virus caused 148 illnesses and four deaths. One hundred and one cases were reported in 2007. Since 2008, the number of cases has been mostly in the single digits until this summer.
The year's mosquito-friendly warm temperatures probably account for the higher 2012 numbers, Neitzel said.