Lyme Disease risk is on the rise in West Michigan

Posted at 6:12 PM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 18:13:22-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--Spring is here which means it’s more important than ever to watch out for Lyme disease.

The Michigan Department of Health says the risk for the disease has increased in several counties across the state.

"Last year in Kent County we had 13 cases of Lyme Disease reported to us in the health department so it's increased by a lot," says Brian Hartl, Kent County Health Department Epidemiologist.

The map  shows why health officials are taking a second look at the  the risk of Lyme disease in Michigan. Several West Michigan counties fall into the higher risk zones.

"Years ago, we didn't see them on the west side of the state and then just about two or three years ago we started seeing them showing up here and in the part of the Upper Peninsula and now we know that all of the counties along the lakeshore and everywhere in Michigan has become home for the Deer, the Deer tick, the Black-legged tick," says Steve Kelso, from the Kent County Health Department.

"Over the past couple of years we've been seeing an expansion of tick habits in the state of mission so we know that up the lake shore in Michigan we know that those counties are at risk for lyme disease," says Hartl.

If you are bitten by a tick and don't remove it right away you could face flu like symptoms.

"Lyme disease can definitely change your life I personally know someone who had a bad case of Lyme disease and it affected him for years, and especially for somebody who is older, immune compromised, or susceptible to other diseases might already have other disease those folks are really the hardest hit," says Kelso.

While you may consider the lakeshore or the woods to be hot spots for ticks, the health department says the risk could be in your backyard.

"Ticks love that long grass and they're laying there in wait for you," says Kelso.

April through September remain high risk months for Lyme Disease. For more information click here.