Questing Ixodes ricinus ticks and Borrelia spp. in urban green space across Europe: a review.
For more than three decades, it has been recognized that Ixodes ricinus ticks occur in urban green space in Europe and that they harbour multiple pathogens linked to both human and animal diseases. Urban green space use for health and well-being, climate mitigation or biodiversity goals is promoted, often without consideration for the potential impact on tick encounters or tick-borne disease outcomes. This review synthesizes the results of over 100 publications on questing I. ricinus and Borrelia spp. infections in ticks in urban green space in 24 European countries. It presents data on several risk indicators for Lyme borreliosis and highlights key research gaps and recommendations for future studies. Across Europe, mean density of I. ricinus in urban green space was 6.9 (range; 0.1-28.8) per 100 m2 and mean Borrelia prevalence was 17.3% (range; 3.1%-38.1%). Similar density estimates were obtained for nymphs, which had a Borrelia prevalence of 14.2% (range; 0.5%-86.7%). Few studies provided data on both questing nymph density and Borrelia prevalence, but those that did found an average of 1.7 (range; 0-5.6) Borrelia-infected nymphs per 100 m2 of urban green space. Although a wide range of genospecies were reported, Borrelia afzelii was the most common in most parts of Europe, except for England where B. garinii was more common. The emerging pathogen Borrelia miyamotoi was also found in several countries, but with a much lower prevalence (1.5%). Our review highlights that I. ricinus and tick-borne Borrelia pathogens are found in a wide range of urban green space habitats and across several seasons. The impact of human exposure to I. ricinus and subsequent Lyme borreliosis incidence in urban green space has not been quantified. There is also a need to standardize sampling protocols to generate better baseline data for the density of ticks and Borrelia prevalence in urban areas.