According to local experts, Walker County has had no reported cases of the West Nile virus or the eastern equine encephalitis virus, two deadly viruses carried by mosquitoes, in the last year.

West Nile virus can be found in birds, horses, other animals or even humans. Michael Clarke, Huntsville animal control officer, said Walker County will test five different species of birds for West Nile: crow, blue jay, cardinal, raptor and house sparrows. Clarke said birds with West Nile usually die alone, and suspected birds can be brought to the animal shelter for testing.

“We don’t test birds with any signs of decomposing, and any birds brought in must be whole,” Clarke said.

Walker County has no cases reported for this year and only two cases last year — one case in a bird and one case in another unidentified animal.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas reported 789 cases of West Nile last year and 215 this year.

Counties in the surrounding area also have no reported cases of EEE. In 2001, there was one case in East Texas near Rusk. However, the area of counties including Walker, Montgomery, Harris and Austin had one case of St. Louis encephalitis virus in a bird and two cases of encephalitis in mosquitoes.

To prevent mosquito bites, there are several things Huntsville residents can do.

Ree Slovin, Huntsville health inspector, said there are the four Ds of protection: dusk and dawn, dress, DEET and drain. Dusk and dawn are the times mosquitoes are out the most. Slovin said infected mosquitoes are most active then.

Dress in long sleeves and pants when outside. Spraying clothing with repellent gives more protection as well.

DEET is an ingredient in repellents residents should look for and repellent should always be worn when outside.

Finally, drain any areas of standing water around your home. Mosquito larvae only need three to four days of standing water to appear.

Most cities have a program where special trucks travel through neighborhoods and spray insect repellent for protection. However, Slovin said Huntsville doesn’t have a spray protection program.