Urban woodland habitat is important for tick presence and density in a city in England

Kayleigh M. Hansford*, Benedict W. Wheeler, Barbara Tshirren, Jolyon M. Medlock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban green spaces provide an opportunity for contact between members of the public and ticks infected with pathogens. Understanding tick distribution within these areas and the drivers for increased tick density or Borrelia infection are important from a risk management perspective. This study aimed to generate data on tick presence, nymph density and Borrelia infection across a range of urban green space habitats, in order to identify those that may potentially present a higher risk of Lyme borreliosis to members of the public. Several sites were visited across the English city of Bath during 2015 and 2016. Tick presence was confirmed in all habitats surveyed, with increased likelihood in woodland and woodland edge. Highest nymph densities were also reported in these habitats, along with grassland during one of the sampling years. Adult ticks were more likely to be infected compared to nymphs, and the highest densities of infected nymphs were associated with woodland edge habitat. In addition to Lyme borreliosis causing Borrelia genospecies, Borrelia miyamotoi was also detected at several sites. This study adds to the growing evidence that urban green space habitats present a public health risk from tick bites, and this has implications for many policy areas including health and wellbeing, climate adaptation and urban green space planning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101857
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was a collaborative project between Public Health England and the University of Exeter and was completed as part of PhD studies by the lead author. The authors acknowledge the contribution from Benjamin Cull, Maaike Pietzsch, Liz McGinley, Maya Holding and Alexander Vaux, all current or past members of the Medical Entomology & Zoonoses Ecology Group, who conducted field work as part of this project. Sara Gandy is also acknowledged, for her training and guidance in relation to the statistical analyses. We thank Bath and North East Somerset Council for supporting this research and for taking a pro-active approach to tick awareness in their area. Finally, the authors would like to thank the three reviewers who helped improve an earlier version of the manuscript. Some of the authors (JMM, KMH) 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 Public Health England (PHE), 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 PHE 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 PHE. The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Open Access: No Open Access licence.

Publisher Copyright: Crown Copyright © 2021 Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Citation: Kayleigh M. Hansford, Benedict W. Wheeler, Barbara Tschirren, Jolyon M. Medlock, Urban woodland habitat is important for tick presence and density in a city in England, Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, Volume 13, Issue 1, 2022, 101857, ISSN 1877-959X.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2021.101857.


  • Borrelia miyamotoi
  • Connectivity
  • Green space
  • Habitat change
  • Ixodes ricinus
  • Lyme disease


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