Friday, 23 October 2015


Tick abundances in South London parks and the potential risk for Lyme borreliosis to the general public 
  • C. NELSON, 
  • S. BANKS, 
  • T. WALKER and
  • J. G. LOGAN 
  • Abstract

    Tick abundances and prevalences of infection with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, the causative agent of Lyme disease, were investigated in four South London parks. A total of 360 transects were sampled using three methods of collection (blanket, leggings and flags) simultaneously. No ticks were found on Wimbledon Common or at Hampton Court, but 1118 Ixodes ricinus (Ixodida: Ixodidae) ticks were collected at Richmond and Bushy Parks. At Richmond Park, lower canopy humidity [odds ratio (OR) 0.94; P = 0.005], increased mat depth (OR 1.15; P < 0.001) and increased soil moisture (OR 1.40; P = 0.001) predicted the presence of I. ricinus, and increased sward height [incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.01; P = 0.006] and decreased ground temperature (IRR 0.90; P = 0.009) predicted increased abundance. At Bushy Park, thicker mat depth predicted tick presence (OR 1.17; P = 0.006) and increasing temperature correlated with tick absence (OR 0.57; P = 0.023). A total of 279 ticks were screened for the presence of B. burgdorferi using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Point prevalences of 0% for larvae (n = 78), 2.14% for nymphs (n = 174) and 0% for adult ticks (n = 7) related to an acarological risk of 0.22 infected ticks per 40 m transect in Richmond Park. The abundance of ticks and the acarological risk, particularly at Richmond Park, highlight the need for appropriate communication of the associated risk to the general public frequenting these recreational areas.
    Interesting research on ticks in London Parks by researchers from the London school of Hygiene & Tropical medicine.
    James Logan has discussed his research in the media recently to help raise awareness of ticks and possible tick borne infections - Lyme Disease.
     Science daily - 'Dr James Logan, Senior Lecturer in Medical Entomology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, senior author of the study said: "The overall risk of Lyme disease in London parks is very low, but precautions should be taken. Check yourself and your pets after frequenting parkland areas, and remove any ticks as quickly as possible using a tick removal tool. To minimise the risk stick to footpaths and wear an insect repellent."
    Hopefully more such important work will be done and more awareness raised of Lyme Disease.
    In 1994 

    Evidence for Lyme disease in urban park workers: a potential new health hazard for city inhabitants.Rees DH1Axford JS.


    In the UK, cases of Lyme disease have only been reported from rural areas. Recently, however, Ixodes ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi have been found in London parks. To determine whether this constituted a health hazard, we questioned 44 workers from Richmond and Bushey parks to assess their exposure to tick bites and whether they had a clinical history of Lyme disease. Their serum was subsequently investigated for antibodies to two different preparations of Borrelia burgdorferi (whole cell sonicate and flagellin) and the specificity of these antibodies determined by immunoblotting. Comparison was made to zoo keepers (n = 27) from a wildlife park outside London. Tick bites were reported in 23% of park workers and of these, three described symptoms compatible with Lyme disease. Raised antibody levels were found in 10 (24%) of the park workers compared with one (4%) of the zoo keepers using ELISA with whole cell sonicate as antigen (P = 0.02) and 6 (14%) of park workers and none of the zoo keepers using purified flagellin as antigen (P < 0.05). Analysis of the immunoblots revealed more bands were detected in park workers (mean 1.8, range 0-6) than in the zoo keeper controls (mean 0.8, range 0-4); P < 0.001 and 14 (32%) of the park workers had reactivity with three or more protein bands, whilst only one of the zoo keepers showed this level of antigen binding (P < 0.005). These data suggest previous infection with B. burgdorferi in London park workers which has important health implications for these individuals, other park workers and possibly park visitors.

    20 years later and still no signage in the London parks.

    Anecdotal comments from patients infected in the London Parks show that there is still little doctor awareness too in that area. 

    Concerns that knowledge of tick borne disease in the UK will frighten people away from visiting the great outdoors seems to have been the policy of HPA but this is assumption and research does not support that concern. 

    So for 20 years the public are left ignorant and doctors are ill informed and ill equipped to help diagnose and treat Lyme Disease. 

    The human health burden rises year on year rarely seeming to magically resolve without treatment leaving a miserable existence for those infected and left untreated and a burden on our Health care costs benefit costs and economy. 

    Yesterday a meeting at the House of Lords on Lyme Disease asked the Health minister to respond to concerns - lack of awareness, public signage in the London Parks and lack of doctor awareness were just some of the many concerns.

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