WORTHINGTON (AP) - Health officials have confirmed another nine cases of West Nile virus in Minnesota over the past week.

That brings Minnesota's total to 44 for the year, including one death. Nearly 1,600 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been reported nationwide.

Minnesota Department of Health epidemiologist Dave Neitzel says the number of new cases should start to decline later this month.

Neitzel says the final 2012 total should be well below peak West Nile years. He says as mosquito numbers decline in September, the state also should see a drop in the number of new cases.

Minnesota's highest number of West Nile cases came in 2003, when the virus caused 148 illnesses and four deaths.

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