Impact of green space connectivity on urban tick presence, density and Borrelia infected ticks in different habitats and seasons in three cities in southern England

Kayleigh M. Hansford*, Emma L. Gillingham, Alexander G.C. Vaux, Benjamin Cull, Liz McGinley, Matthew Catton, Benedict W. Wheeler, Barbara Tschirren, Jolyon M. Medlock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Understanding the effects of local habitat and wider landscape connectivity factors on tick presence, nymph density and Borrelia species (spp.) prevalence in the tick population is important for identifying the public health risk from Lyme borreliosis. This multi-city study collected data in three southern England cities (Bath, Bristol, and Southampton) during spring, summer, and autumn in 2017. Focusing specifically on urban green space used for recreation which were clearly in urbanised areas, 72 locations were sampled. Additionally, geospatial datasets on urban green space coverage within 250 m and 1 km of sampling points, as well as distance to woodland were incorporated into statistical models. Distance to woodland was negatively associated with tick presence and nymph density, particularly during spring and summer. Furthermore, we observed an interaction effect between habitat and season for tick presence and nymph density, with woodland habitat having greater tick presence and nymph density during spring. Borrelia spp. infected Ixodes ricinus were found in woodland, woodland edge and under canopy habitats in Bath and Southampton. Overall Borrelia spp. prevalence in nymphs was 2.8%, similar to wider UK studies assessing prevalence in Ixodes ricinus in rural areas. Bird-related Borrelia genospecies dominated across sites, suggesting bird reservoir hosts may be important in urban green space settings for feeding and infecting ticks. Whilst overall density of infected nymphs across the three cities was low (0.03 per 100 m2), risk should be further investigated by incorporating data on tick bites acquired in urban settings, and subsequent Lyme borreliosis transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102103
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Volume14
Issue number2
Early online date9 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors acknowledge the efforts of Zac Newham and Maya Holding who took part in some of the field data collection. KMH, JMM and ELG were partly funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Environmental Change and Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in partnership with UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England), and in collaboration with the University of Exeter, University College London, and the Met Office; and JMM was partly funded by the NIHR HPRU in Emerging Infections and Zoonoses at the University of Liverpool in partnership with UK Health Security Agency and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the NIHR, the Department of Health or UK Health Security Agency. Finally, we thank the reviewers for their helpful comments.

Open Access: This is an open access article under the CC BY license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Publisher Copyright: Crown Copyright © 2022 Published by Elsevier GmbH.

Citation: Kayleigh M Hansford, Emma L Gillingham, Alexander G C Vaux, Benjamin Cull, Liz McGinley, Matthew Catton, Benedict W Wheeler, Barbara Tschirren, Jolyon M Medlock, Impact of green space connectivity on urban tick presence, density and Borrelia infected ticks in different habitats and seasons in three cities in southern England,Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2023, 102103, ISSN 1877-959X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2022.102103.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2022.102103.

Keywords

  • Borrelia
  • Connectivity
  • Ixodes ricinus
  • Lyme borreliosis
  • Public health
  • Ticks

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