When zebra mussels were first found in Lake Texoma, I was afraid it was just a matter of time until they spread to other lakes. The only way to prevent the spread of  zebra mussels is to thoroughly clean your boat after leaving a lake where their presence is known.

Zebra mussel larvae, known as veligers, have been confirmed in Lake Bridgeport. The news comes days after the discovery of the invasive exotic in Lewisville Lake.

Zebra mussels can have economic and recreational impacts in Texas reservoirs. They can clog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors left in infested waters by covering boat hulls and clogging water-cooling systems, annoy boat-dock owners by completely covering anything left under water and can make water recreation hazardous because of their razor-sharp edges.

From the environmental perspective, zebra mussels are filter feeders, which mean they compete with baitfish such as shad for available forage. Any impact on baitfish in turn can affect their predators — game fish such as bass, striped bass and catfish. Zebra mussels are also very harmful to native mussel populations because they will colonize on their shells and essentially suffocate them.

A zebra mussel population is suspected in Lake Bridgeport because zebra mussel DNA was found in the fall of 2011 and 2012, and some veligers were detected this spring in plankton tows. Samples collected by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) from Lake Bridgeport on June 6 were examined using cross polarized light microscopy and suspect veligers were detected. Dr. Bob McMahon with The University of Texas-Arlington (UTA) confirmed these results on June 17.

It is important to note that to date no settled juvenile or adult zebra mussels have been found in Lake Bridgeport to suggest a self-sustaining population. Given the high mortality rates of zebra mussel veligers it’s not a guarantee that a population exists but given these results and the DNA results from the past two years it is likely that the lake is infested.

Routine monitoring by the TRWD, UTA and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will continue on the reservoir to determine if there is any growth or spread of the mussels. Also, because lakes Eagle Mountain and Worth are downstream of Lake Bridgeport they are also at risk and will continue to be monitored.

The spread can be slowed by making sure boats that operate in zebra mussel-infested waters are not used in any other body of water until they have been cleaned, drained and dried. In addition, TPWD adopted rules regarding the transfer of zebra mussel larvae in water from lakes Texoma, Lavon, Ray Roberts and Lewisville. To comply with these rules, boaters and anglers need to drain all water from their boats (including live wells) before leaving those lakes.

TPWD and a coalition of partners have been reaching out to boaters in Texas with an advertising campaign to educate them not to transport the tiny mussels or their microscopic larvae, which are invisible to the naked eye and can stay alive inside livewells, bait buckets and other parts of the boat for up to a week. These partners include: Tarrant Regional Water District,North Texas Municipal Water District, Trinity River Authority, City of Dallas Water Utilities Department, Upper Trinity Regional Water District, Sabine River Authority, Canadian River Municipal Water Authority, San Jacinto River Authority, Brazos River Authority, City of Grapevine, City of Houston, City of Waco and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Originally from the Balkans, Poland and the former Soviet Union, zebra mussels found their way to the Americas in the 1980s via ballast water of a ship. The small invaders were first found in 1988 in Lake St. Clair, Mich., and are currently known to have infested 29 states and more than 600 lakes or reservoirs in the United States.


Beware of ticks during summer

About 15 years ago, I was hog hunting during mid summer. A couple of days later, I noticed a red ring on my leg and a few days later, I started feeling badly. My joints ached and I just generally felt run down. Back then, not a great deal was known about Lyme disease but I felt sure the tick that had bitten me was the root cause of my ailments. I wasn’t sure if I had contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme disease, or what. 

 After a blood test, the result was negative for Lyme disease or any other known malady caused by ticks. But, I still felt bad and continued to feel bad for a good six or eight weeks. My energy level was low and I remember just dragging around for much too long. 

 After reading the information I’m sharing with you I am more convinced than ever that I had Lyme disease. If your outdoor adventures include being in the woods during the warm weather months, take precautions to prevent being bitten by ticks. D.E.E.T.  is the best preventative on the market today. 

Dr. Kerry Clark, University of North Florida associate professor of public health, and his colleagues have found two species of Lyme disease bacteria previously unknown to infect humans in patients.

These two Lyme disease species, Borrelia americana and Borrelia andersonii, were found in symptomatic patients living in the Southeastern United States. The commonly found lone star tick, formerly believed by many to be incapable of transmitting Lyme disease, was implicated in some of these cases.

His research, published in the May issue of The International Journal of Medical Sciences, is significant for several reasons. First, only one Lyme bacterial species, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, was previously recognized to cause disease in North America. Current testing methods and interpretation criteria, designed to detect just one species, may explain many of the complaints involving the unreliability of Lyme disease tests in the U.S.

“This study’s findings suggest that multiple Borrelia species may be causing Lyme disease in the Southeast, another tick species may also be transmitting it in the Southeast and that it may be much more common here than was previously thought,” says Clark. “Additional evidence presented suggests that some people may develop chronic infections, and the current antibody testing approach for Lyme disease may not identify the infections.”

Clark and his team identified lone star ticks removed from humans who tested positive for Lyme bacteria, including the species of Borrelia burgdorferi, already known to cause the disease in North America. Some of the ticks removed from the patients tested positive, too.

Lyme disease can be quite serious and patients can suffer for years, often struggling with being properly diagnosed.