Tuesday November 24, 2015
If you think you are safe from Lyme Disease in the city, then think again….
Recent research has revealed that visitors to two South London parks could be at risk of contracting Lyme Disease (Lyme borreliosis) from the bites of infected ticks. The research published in Medical and Veterinary Entomology, recognises that Lyme Disease is not just present in the countryside. Some urban parks also harbour infected ticks, although the risk of tick bites is generally lower than in rural areas.
The study by researchers at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical medicine looked at four London parks for ticks. Two of the parks had no ticks; Wimbledon Common and Hampton Court. However Bushy Park did have ticks present, although none at the time of the study were infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that cause Lyme Disease.
Richmond Park had six nymphs (immature ticks) carrying the dangerous bacteria, found in bordering woodland and open grassland. This park may be particularly susceptible to infected ticks due to its deer population, which provide a perfect host for the tick to get its blood meals.
Ticks attach themselves to their host by “questing”, where they wave their forelegs and lie in wait for a passing host to brush by the vegetation. The host in question, could be you or your dog!
Lyme Disease symptoms can include a bulls-eye rash, flu-like symptoms, joint or muscle pain, fever and neck stiffness. If the disease develops without being treated it can lead to life-long health problems, with joint pain and the nervous system affected.
To protect yourself from what can be a debilitating health condition…..
- Stick to footpaths
- Wear long trousers tucked into socks and long sleeves to minimise exposed skin
- Use a spray insect repellent
- After walks check yourself for ticks, brushing off any found on clothing and quickly remove any on your skin using a tick removal tool.
- Avoid wooded areas or long undergrowth where possible
- Use a fabric spray on backpacks, tents and outdoor kit
- Avoid sitting on the ground especially where there is overgrown grass
- Wear light coloured clothing to help you see any ticks crawling on you
- Wash and tumble dry your clothes on a high heat, as ticks can remain in clothing!
A final word of caution…..
The longer a tick stays attached to your skin, the greater the risk of Lyme Disease so be vigilant when checking yourself for ticks and stay protected with an insect repellent.
Clive Nelson, Sarah Banks, Claire Jeffries, Tom Walker, James G Logan. Tick abundance in South London parks and the potential risk of Lyme borreliosis to the general public. Medical and Veterinary Entomology. DOI: 10.1111/mve.12137 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mve.12137/epdf
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