Lyme disease is on the rise in parts of southern Quebec, particularly in the Montérégie region where the number of cases has quadrupled since 2012.

The Montérégie public health director, Alain Poirier, said 160 cases of Lyme disease were reported in the province last year, with about half of them in Montérégie alone.

“The tick and the infection are actually progressing north. Last year we had 76 cases in our region,” he said.

The disease originated in Lyme, Connecticut in the 1970s. It can cause serious illnesses such as arthritis, neurological problems and cardiac arrest.

Poirier said Lyme disease was not recognized in Quebec before 2006. Even now, some people with the disease are still struggling to get tested and treated in the province.

Health officials are warning people to be on the lookout for ticks that could be carrying the disease and are advising people to wear long sleeves and pants, as well as bug repellant, when heading out into the woods or grassy areas.

People are advised to check themselves, their children and animals for ticks when coming in from the outdoors and removing any ticks with a pair of tweezers.

“If you have a tick on yourself you can remove it and you won't be infected, because it takes 24 hours for the tick to give the bacteria,” Poirier said.