Two more people have died from West Nile disease in Illinois, bringing to 18 the number of Illinoisans who have died this year after contracting the mosquito-borne virus, the state Department of Public Health announced Monday.

The department also announced 24 new human cases of the virus, bringing the total to 381 in Illinois.

Dr. John Lumpkin, state public health director, said the most recent deaths were an 81-year-old Sangamon County man and an 81-year-old woman from Chicago.

The man was admitted to the hospital Sept. 7 and died Sept. 8; the woman died Saturday, Lumpkin said. Their names were not released.

The state's other deaths from West Nile virus include three from Chicago and eight from suburban Cook County. DuPage, Effingham, Macon, Madison and Moultrie counties also have recorded fatalities.

Of the new cases announced Monday, nine are from Chicago, 10 are from suburban Cook County and one each is from Jackson, Sangamon, St. Clair, Clark and McLean counties. Clark and McLean counties reported their first cases.

Health officials say most people infected with West Nile virus have either no symptoms or mild symptoms, but a few individuals -- especially the elderly -- can develop a more severe form of the disease.

West Nile illness in Illinois has been reported in people ranging in age from 3 months to 92 years.

Lumpkin reminded people to avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn. If they do venture outside when mosquitoes are most active, people should wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, along with mosquito repellent with the ingredient DEET.

People also should remove standing pools of water where mosquitoes can breed.