AUSTIN, Texas — Travis County Parks is warning the public about zebra mussels' hazard to swimmers and boaters.  

The mussels' shells are sharp and can easily cut bare skin and most lightweight clothing. The public is urged to wear water shoes, tennis shoes or any sturdy, closed-toe footwear while near the water.

In addition, the public is advised to be careful where you place your hands and feet upon entering or exiting the water and when near underwater rocks or structures.

According to Travis County Parks, there have been dozens of mussel-caused injuries at the beginning of the 2019 swim season.

“The zebra mussels have really covered those rocks is what it boils down to," said Dan Chapman, chief park manager for Travis County.

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Most injuries are minor and only require cleansing of the wound and an adhesive bandage. However, few injuries have required further medical attention that needed stitches.

All reported injuries have come from Lake Travis.

Chapman said most of the reported injuries are from Hippie Hollow specifically.

Zebra mussels have been a growing problem in Lake Travis and other lakes across Central Texas. The best way to keep them from spreading is to make sure people wash their boats. But the Parks and Wildlife Department said they don't have the tools to make sure people are doing that.

"We don't have the number of enforcement officers to have somebody present at every boat ramp at every lake every day of the week," said Jarret Barker with the Texas Park and Wildlife Department.

Lake Travis, Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake can be classified as fully infested with mussels, according to Travis County Parks.

Travis County parks on Lake Travis with mussel populations:

  • Arkansas Bend
  • Bob Wentz
  • Cypress Creek
  • Hippie Hollow
  • Mansfield Dam
  • Pace Bend
  • Sandy Creek
  • Tom Hughes

There is currently no method for large-scale control or eradication of zebra mussels. 

WATCH: 3 new Texas lakes added to zebra mussel list

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