09/12/2012 06:34 EDT | Updated 11/12/2012 05:12 EST

West Nile In Ontario: Worst Year Since 2002 As Case Count Jumps Another 36 Per Cent

This undated photo provided by the Northwest Mosquito Abatement District shows a Culex pipiens, left, the primary mosquito that can transmit West Nile virus to humans, birds and other animals. It is produced from stagnant water. The bite of this mosquito is very gentle and usually unnoticed by people. At right is an Aedes vexans, primarily a nuisance mosquito produced from freshwater. It is a very aggressive biting mosquito but not an important transmitter of disease. (AP Photo/courtesy the Northwestern Mosquito Abatement District)
TORONTO - New West Nile virus counts for Ontario show the province has already had the worst year for the illness since 2002.

The weekly report from Public Health Ontario says the province's case count jumped another 36 per cent last week, to 158 confirmed and probable cases as of Sept. 8.

The only year Ontario had more cases was in 2002, the first year West Nile virus cases were reported in Canada; that year there were 394 human cases.

About a third of this year's Ontario cases have occurred in Toronto.

Four other provinces have reported West Nile cases this year — Alberta (five), Saskatchewan (two), Manitoba (29) and Quebec (20).

But so far this year there have been no reported deaths due to the disease in Canada.

That isn't the case south of the border, where the U.S. is on track to have its worst West Nile year ever.

Officials of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced Wednesday that so far 1,405 serious illnesses and 118 deaths have been reported this season.

The bulk are in Texas, but Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Michigan have also seen substantial numbers.

— With files from The Associated Press

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