Visitors to 2 popular parks in South London are at risk of coming into contact with ticks that can transmit Lyme disease to humans, according to a new study in Medical and Veterinary Entomology.
Researchers studied 4 parks to see how prevalent ticks were and whether they carried the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterial parasite that causes Lyme borreliosis (Lyme disease). A total of 1109 ticks (532 larvae, 568 nymphs, 6 adult male, 3 adult female) were collected at Richmond Park and 9 ticks (all nymphs) were collected at Bushy Park. The team found no evidence of ticks in Wimbledon Common or Hampton Court.
When the investigators analyzed ticks for the presence of B. burgdorferi, they estimated the presence of 0.22 infected ticks per 40-m transect in Richmond Park.
The researchers advise the public to take preventative measures to avoid tick bites in Bushy, and especially Richmond, parks.
"The overall the 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 ticks as quickly as possible, if you find any, using a tick removal tool," said Dr. James Logan, senior author of the Medical and Veterinary Entomology study. "To minimize the risk, stick to footpaths and wear an insect repellent. "