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Novel exposure sites for nymphal Ixodes pacificus within picnic areas.

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Risk of exposure to nymphal Ixodes pacificus Cooley and Kohls ticks was investigated at 7 picnic areas in Tilden Regional Park, a heavily used recreation area of over 2000 acres in northwestern California, east of San Francisco Bay. Wooden picnic tables, tree trunks, logs, leaf litter, surrounding vegetation, and rock walls were checked for ticks using standard 1-m(2) flannel tick flags at biweekly intervals from March to August 2008. Results indicate that nymphal I. pacificus were commonly found on wooden picnic tables and other wooden materials, such as tree trunks and logs, at an equal proportion to those found in leaf litter. Nymphal I. pacificus in picnic areas peaked in April, with a secondary peak in early June. Five of 170 (2.9%) nymphal I. pacificus collected at picnic sites were positive for Borrelia spirochetes, of which 3 (1.8%) were identified as B. burgdorferi sensu stricto using molecular techniques. In addition, a nymphal I. auritulus collected from a rock wall in a picnic area tested positive for a mixture of B. burgdorferi and B. bissettii; this tick species feeds exclusively on birds. This study indicates a moderate risk of acquiring a nymphal tick at Tilden Park picnic areas, but due to the low B. burgdorferi infection prevalence, the risk of acquiring
Lyme disease appears to be low.

Published by Elsevier GmbH.

Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2011 Dec;2(4):191-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2011.07.002. Epub 2011 Sep 25.

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