Ticks and Lyme Disease Bacteria in Urban Areas

Jenn Hoskins
29th June, 2024

Ticks and Lyme Disease Bacteria in Urban Areas

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study in Zielona Góra, Poland, found ticks in 29 out of 72 urban green areas, including parks, schools, and forests
  • About 26.1% of the collected ticks were infected with Borrelia, the bacteria causing Lyme disease
  • The most common Borrelia species found were B. lusitaniae and B. afzelii, with no co-infections detected
Urban green spaces, such as parks, schools, kindergartens, and urban forests, are essential for recreation and well-being. However, these areas also pose a risk for tick-borne diseases. A recent study conducted by the University of Zielona Góra[1] sought to determine the occurrence of ticks in these urban green areas and assess the prevalence of Borrelia infections, the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease. The study collected a total of 161 ticks from 29 out of 72 study sites in Zielona Góra, a medium-sized city in western Poland. The ticks belonged to two species: Ixodes ricinus (34 males, 51 females, 30 nymphs) and Dermacentor reticulatus (20 males, 26 females). The findings revealed that 26.1% of the ticks tested positive for Borrelia DNA, with a significant difference in infection rates between the two species. Specifically, 85.7% of the infected ticks were I. ricinus, while 14.3% were D. reticulatus. Among the infected ticks, the most common Borrelia species were B. lusitaniae (50.0%) and B. afzelii (26.2%), followed by B. spielmanii, B. valaisiana, B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, and B. miyamotoi. Notably, no co-infections were found. The study did not observe a correlation between the occurrence of Borrelia spirochetes and the habitat type or height of vegetation at the individual study sites. These findings underscore the active Borrelia transmission cycles within urban habitats, highlighting the need for continuous monitoring of tick-borne pathogens in public green areas. This research aligns with earlier studies that emphasize the importance of understanding tick behavior and pathogen prevalence in urban environments. For instance, a study in south-western Poland found that environmental conditions in urban heat islands, such as temperature and humidity, significantly influence tick abundance and activity, thereby affecting the risk of Lyme disease[2]. Similarly, research in Serbia demonstrated the diversity of Borrelia species in ticks, further emphasizing the widespread nature of these pathogens[3]. Moreover, the spread of tick-borne diseases is not confined to local environments. Birds migrating along the Polish Baltic coast have been found to carry various tick species, including I. ricinus, thereby facilitating the spread of tick-borne pathogens across different regions[4]. This interconnectedness highlights the complexity of managing tick populations and the diseases they carry. The use of remote sensing tools like the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) has proven effective in predicting avian diversity in urban landscapes[5]. These tools could potentially be adapted to monitor tick habitats and predict areas of high tick activity, thereby aiding in the management of urban green spaces to reduce tick populations and associated health risks. In conclusion, the study by the University of Zielona Góra provides crucial insights into the occurrence and infection rates of ticks in urban green areas, emphasizing the need for proactive monitoring and management strategies. By integrating findings from various studies, it becomes evident that a multifaceted approach, incorporating environmental monitoring, public awareness, and effective urban planning, is essential to mitigate the risks posed by tick-borne diseases in urban settings.



Main Study

1) Ticks and spirochetes of the genus Borrelia in urban areas of Central-Western Poland

Published 28th June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Threat of attacks of Ixodes ricinus ticks (Ixodida: Ixodidae) and Lyme borreliosis within urban heat islands in south-western Poland.


3) Diversity of Lyme borreliosis spirochetes isolated from ticks in Serbia.


4) Ticks (Acari: Ixodida) on birds (Aves) migrating through the Polish Baltic coast.


5) EVI and NDVI as proxies for multifaceted avian diversity in urban areas.


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