Lyme disease is on the rise in the Ottawa are; a worrisome trend as more of us head outdoors in this beautiful weather. Health professionals are warning residents to make sure to check themselves and their dogs after any walk in the woods. The deer tick is a tiny bug but it can make a lasting impression if it's carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

Ticks are out earlier this year because of the warm start to spring, and in greater numbers.  So vigilance is key.

Ben Facchin has owned dogs all his life. In all that time, he's only had one tick on one dog until now.

“We found three ticks in about two days,” he says.  Facchin and his dog Ruby had been out for a hike in the woods in an area around Kanata a few days earlier. Wednesday evening, he took Ruby to the Carp Road Animal Hospital to get her tested for Lyme disease after discovering ticks on her.  Facchin found the ticks on Ruby after noticing a couple of bites on his own body.

“I saw them on me,” he says, “They looked like a little bump on my skin and upon a closer look you could see the little legs and abdomen sticking out so I got pretty grossed out once I saw that.”

He managed to pull them out, even stuck one of them in a bottle. Ottawa Public Health encourages people to bring those ticks that have been them in Ottawa to get them tested for Lyme disease, something which is on the rise across Canada and here in Ottawa.

“All of Eastern Ontario, you need to be concerned about ticks and Lyme disease,” says Dr. Robin Taylor, Ottawa’s Associate Medical Health Officer.

Dr. Taylor says concerned, because Lyme disease has long term consequences if it's not treated.

“Some people can develop joint issues, neurological issues, brain issues and also heart issues,” she says.

All this isn't to scare people from going outside, and certainly doesn’t deter Aylish Doubt-Savard, who was walking her dog at Bruce Pit today, “I don’t let it stop me from doing anything I normally would.”

Which is great but Ottawa Public Health says residents do need to take precautions. If you are planning on going into any longer grass, make sure you put on bug spray with DEET.  Wear longer pants and make sure you tuck those pants into your socks. When you get home, check yourself, something dog walkers Darcy Middleton and Karen Moon, always do.

“When we get home,” says Moon, we will check our ankles, our hands.  Dr. Taylor also suggests people check behind their ears and in their armpits, since ticks like to crawl into warmer areas of the body.

Veterinarians say dog owners also need to check their dogs on a regular basis.

“Often times, you will see them attached under the ears,” says Dr. Kevin McIntosh, a vet at the Algonquin Animal Hospital, “and people will think, “oh my dog has a bump here.”

Dr. McIntosh tells dog owners that if your dog has ticks, there is a good possibility that you may as well.  Vet clinics are seeing more ticks and more positive tests for Lyme than they ever have; 23 cases so far at the Algonquin Animal Hospital in just a couple months’ time.

“Believe it or not we pulled a live tick of a dog Christmas Eve,” says Dr. McIntosh, “It was warm around that time and with that increase in tick occurrences, there are more chances of dogs and humans getting bitten and getting Lyme.”

Dr. Taylor says ticks need to attach to a human host for at least twenty-four hours in order to spread Lyme disease, so getting them off quickly is really important.  Even better, she suggests, try to avoid getting bitten in the first place.