Broome County enters Lyme Disease Awareness Month with a higher number of cases.

In 2016, there were nearly 300 confirmed cases. Last year's numbers are still being finalized, but officials believe cases rose by nearly 60 percent.

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of infected deer ticks.

If left untreated, it can lead to severe arthritis, or cause neurological or cardiac problems.

If you're going out in wooded areas, health experts recommend wearing light colored clothing, walking in the center of trails, and doing full body checks at the end of the day.

"Try and get that shower as soon as possible,” said Public Health Sanitarian Joshua Phelps. “While you're in there, do that full body check and that's going to be biggest prevention measure because if you can get the tick off within a roughly 36 hour mark, the likelihood of you contracting Lyme Disease is greatly diminished."

Tick removal kits are available for free at the Broome County Health department.

Binghamton University and Southern Tier Lyme Support, Inc. are co-sponsoring a Lyme Disease Conference Saturday, May 5.

It will take place at the Innovative Technologies Complex in Vestal. It's free and open to the public, but registration is required.