With tick season in full swing, Quebec's Health Ministry is sounding the alarm about a rise in reported cases of Lyme disease across the province.
So far this year, there have been 65 reported cases in Quebec, compared to 43 at this time last year. While the majority of cases are in the Eastern Townships and the Montérégie regions, the disease has also been reported in the Laurentian and the Mauricie regions.
- Tick season: Tracking the pesky carriers of Lyme disease
- As tick season hits, Lyme disease patients say they need better care
Lyme disease is spread to humans through bites by ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, with symptoms occurring between three and 30 days after a bite.
Symptoms range from a fever to joint aches, which are often mistaken by sufferers and healthcare professionals for another illness. A common and notable sign of Lyme disease is a bull's eye-shaped rash on the skin.
Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics if it's detected early. If left untreated, the tick-related disease can lead to cardiac and neurological complications.
Steady increase across the province
The number of reported cases of Lyme disease has jumped in the last six years across the province, according to Quebec's Health Ministry. In 2016, there were 179 reported cases. In 2011, there were 32.
The Canadian government recently unveiled $4 million in funding to improve diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. Provincial health officials say they are monitoring the situation and have created awareness campaigns targeted at both healthcare workers and residents.
Quebecers who suspect they might have lyme disease are advised to contact Info-Santé or see a physician.