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New Study Shows Lyme Disease Can Be Found In City Parks

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Ticks and Lyme disease are known to lurk around rural and suburban areas.

Not much is known about ticks in urban settings.

"Nobody's done work on insular parks that are surrounded by populated areas, right in the heart of cities," said Tom Simmons, tick researcher at IUP.

Every year, more than 6 million people use Pittsburgh's parks.

Researchers at IUP looked at the issue in a systematic way, dragging a 1-square-meter cloth on randomly determined 10-square-meter sections of parks, collecting ticks.

They found lots of black-legged ticks, also called deer ticks, which transmit the spiral-shaped Lyme disease bacteria.

For every 100 square meters, one adult rick and three nymphs — the less mature form of ticks — were found.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The ticks were then taken to a lab at IUP to be processed for the Lyme disease bacteria.

"We found about 50 percent of the adults infected and around 20 percent of the nymphs," Simmons said. "So that would be an area that's highly endemic of Lyme disease."

The pattern is comparable to parts of the Northeastern United States, where the disease came from.

This matches what doctors are seeing in the office and hospital.

"Lyme disease, which you used to think was going to a state park and getting it, you can acquire it just by taking a walk in the city of Pittsburgh," said Dr. Andrew Nowalk, Lyme disease expert at UPMC Children's Hospital.

Adult ticks will be more visible over the next couple of weeks.

So tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants while using bug spray.

Even in the city.

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