• A mosquito clings to the wall of an incubation jar; it was collected as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile virus, Oct 10. The insects are shipped to U.S. Army Public Health Command Region - North to test for transmittable diseases.  (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan W. Thomas, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

    Battling West Nile, mosquitoes

    A mosquito clings to the wall of an incubation jar; it was collected as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile virus, Oct 10. The insects are shipped to U.S. Army Public Health Command Region...

  • Raymond Randle, environmental health technician, Fort Bliss Environmental Health, checks the position of a mosquito trap during his daily rounds as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile virus, Oct 10.  Each week the surveillance team sets more than 20 traps to ensure they are accurately tracking the mosquito population. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan W. Thomas, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

    Battling West Nile, mosquitoes

    Raymond Randle, environmental health technician, Fort Bliss Environmental Health, checks the position of a mosquito trap during his daily rounds as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile...

  • Raymond Randle, environmental health technician, Fort Bliss Environmental Health, connects a battery to a mosquito trap during his daily rounds as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile virus, Oct 10.  Each week the surveillance team identifies trouble spots on the installation and sets traps to collect mosquitoes. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan W. Thomas, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

    Battling West Nile, mosquitoes

    Raymond Randle, environmental health technician, Fort Bliss Environmental Health, connects a battery to a mosquito trap during his daily rounds as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile virus...

  • Raymond Randle, environmental health technician, Fort Bliss Environmental Health, attaches a warning sing to a mosquito trap urging people not to disturb the equipment during his daily rounds as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile virus, Oct 10.  Each week the surveillance team sets more than 20 traps to ensure they are accurately tracking the mosquito population. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan W. Thomas, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

    Battling West Nile, mosquitoes

    Raymond Randle, environmental health technician, Fort Bliss Environmental Health, attaches a warning sing to a mosquito trap urging people not to disturb the equipment during his daily rounds as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss...

  • Raymond Randle, environmental health technician, Fort Bliss Environmental Health, connects a mosquito trap to a carbon dioxide source during his daily rounds as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile virus, Oct 10.  The carbon dioxide attracts the mosquito and the net prevents them from escaping. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan W. Thomas, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

    Battling West Nile, mosquitoes

    Raymond Randle, environmental health technician, Fort Bliss Environmental Health, connects a mosquito trap to a carbon dioxide source during his daily rounds as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of...

  • A mosquito clings to the wall of an incubation jar as the larva swim below; they were collected as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile virus, Oct 10. Adult insects are shipped to U.S. Army Public Health Command Region - North to test for transmittable diseases.  (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan W. Thomas, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

    Battling West Nile, mosquitoes

    A mosquito clings to the wall of an incubation jar as the larva swim below; they were collected as part of the mosquito surveillance program at Fort Bliss, Texas, to prevent the spread of West Nile virus, Oct 10. Adult insects are shipped to U.S. Army...

FORT BLISS, Texas -- He fights a never ending battle against opponents too numerous to count, each one with the ability to carry a devastating disease.

He is Raymond Randle. His enemies are mosquitoes potentially carrying the West Nile virus. His battlefield crosses more than 1.17 million acres of land, mud and water.

Randle and his team from the William Beaumont Army Medical Center Department of Preventive Medicine conduct mosquito trapping and surveillance all over Fort Bliss, Texas, to test for WNV and other transmittable diseases.

"I've been doing this for seven seasons and we have yet to have a case of west Nile among active duty Soldiers on Fort Bliss," said Randle, environmental health technician, Fort Bliss Environmental Health.

Each week the surveillance team identifies trouble spots on the installation, sets traps, and gathers water samples to collect mosquitoes and their larvae. The adult insects are shipped to the U.S. Army Public Health Command Region - North to test for transmittable diseases.

"The best thing to do is get out there and do surveillance. It's the number-one aspect of this and it's an everyday affair," said Randle. "If we don't actively get out and survey and dig for the mosquitoes and find out where they're at, we could be in trouble because of the area we're in."

Randle added the Fort Bliss area is networked with storm drains and irrigation trenches where the water lays stagnant, crating the perfect environment for mosquitoes. This area is also home to livestock, migratory birds, and horses, which can all be WNV carriers.

According to USAPHC, West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus first seen in the United States in 1999. Since then, more than 30,000 people in the United States contracted the virus, causing more than 1,200 deaths.

The surveillance team sets more than 20 traps a week to ensure they are accurately tracking the mosquito population. If they collect more than 25 female mosquitoes, they will call in the order to spray the area. This helps the team diminish the number of mosquitoes and could potentially inform them if they have West Nile virus.

"We try to stay on top of the different techniques and methods of containing the mosquitoes," said Randle. "Since we've evolved (the methods) to know where they're at, we try to take proactive measures as far as pre-treating areas."

Part of the fight is informing Fort Bliss and El Paso, Texas, residents on what they can do to defend themselves and help the surveillance team cut down on the mosquito population.

Randle said Soldiers conducting training can protect themselves by spraying permethrin repellent on their uniform, DEET repellent on exposed skin, and making sure their uniform is worn properly. In addition to this, each person should empty water from birdbaths, old tires, and potential mosquito breeding grounds.

"This is one of the best jobs in the world. I feel very privileged to be able to do this. I'm honored to learn what I have learned and it's like a public service," said Randle. "I really take pride in doing surveillance. I get muddy, I get dirty, and it's all worth it. We want to keep [Soldiers] safe and I'm just trying to do my part."

For more information on efforts to fight West Nile carrying mosquitoes visit http://phc.amedd.army.mil

Page last updated Thu October 18th, 2012 at 00:00