SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — West Nile virus is striking people earlier than usual this year in Illinois, and health officials say the number of cases now stands at six.

Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said Wednesday that human cases have been reported in Chicago, Evanston and several Chicago suburbs.

Last year, the first human case wasn’t reported until Aug. 19 in Illinois. That year, there were 34 human cases in the state, including three deaths.

This year’s hot, dry weather created good breeding conditions for the mosquito that carries the virus.

Officials recommend wearing insect repellent and avoiding the outdoors between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are biting.

Most people infected with West Nile won’t get sick, but approximately one in 150 people will develop a severe form of the illness.

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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