The South Downs National Park which stretches across Sussex and Hampshire is one of the country’s top 10 hot spots for Lyme disease caused by ticks, scientists are warning.
Scientists from our school are coming to the end of a comprehensive study which will map where the ticks and bacteria that cause Lyme disease are distributed across the national park.The disease is transmitted to humans by tick bites and if untreated can cause serious disease.
Dr Anja Rott said: “The South Downs National Park has been highlighted as including two of the ten areas in England and Wales where infection with Lyme disease is most frequent. However, no survey of the hazard or the factors affecting it has been carried out across the park.
“Our study will identify the extent of hazard and some environmental factors that affect it. It will determine which animals feed and/or infect ticks with the bacteria that causes the disease and it will summarise and evaluate suggested ‘one-health’ (integrated livestock, wildlife and human health) methods to decrease the risk and suggest actions within the park.”
Almost a third of dogs checked at random across the UK were found to be carrying a tick in the largest survey of ticks in dogs, The Big Tick Project. Dog owners should consult their vet for advice on tick control and how to check and remove ticks correctly.
Early signs of potential Lyme disease in humans include flu-like symptoms and a bull’s eye rash. People should see their GP if they experience these symptoms following a known tick bite.