LONDON, ONT. -- Twenty-year-old Stephanie Filippi knows how life-altering Lyme disease can be.

“It definitely impacted my life, I ended up having to stop school and a lot of my extracurriculars had to stop. I couldn’t work and currently I got into university but can’t go.”

For four years now Filippi has been dealing with a list of symptoms ranging from pain and fatigue, to cognitive and mobility issues.

“It got to the point where I was in a wheelchair bed-bound. I’ve made a lot of improvements with treatment, but yeah it’s going to take a long time.”

And she’s not alone. Filippi’s mother, and her 16-year-old brother have also been diagnosed with Lyme disease. The family says they haven’t travelled anywhere that is considered a high tick risk.

“We are no more outdoorsy than the next person. If anything I love books, I’m a bit of a nerd, I’m more indoorsy than most I guess and yet I have it.”

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) says it has definitely seen an increase in black-legged ticks in our region.

“We are seeing the black-legged tick population rise locally, almost all over Middlesex County, so it’s important people stay diligent, protecting themselves and identifying,” says Jeremy Hogeveen from the MLHU.

The health unit says if you find a tick you can either drop it off at their building for analysis or you can go online to:

“What you can do is submit a photo of your tick to the website. You fill in some information as to where you were and then usually within 48 hours they will let you know what kind of tick it is,” says Hogeveen.

Knowing the number of ticks carrying Lyme disease is increasing in our region prompted Filippi to want to spread awareness, in hopes of helping others.

“As someone with Lyme disease I don’t want to see anyone else go through this process. It’s been very hard, it’s been very frustrating and obviously my health has taken a toll and my life has changed.”

The health unit says if you’re going to be outside, walking, hiking, playing in tall grass or in wooded areas it’s important to use bug spray that contains DEET. You can also wear long sleeves and long pants too for extra protection.

If you’ve been bitten by a tick it’s advised you contact a health care professional