PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – The approaching summer season means ticks. Experts say tick-borne diseases are on the rise, despite more federal money to fight it.

Experts say since we had a milder winter, this could be a banner year for ticks. Plus, ticks are expanding to more urban regions because people are moving closer to the animals that carry them.

Ticks are the main sources of Lyme Disease. You can do things to protect yourself, like wearing long sleeves and pants when you go for a hike in the woods and wearing bug spray. The highest number of cases happen in July and August when people are outside.

If left untreated, Lyme Disease can be fatal. Symptoms range from mild to severe, so it’s vital to get tested. Finding ticks and removing them early is key to avoiding potentially crippling diseases.

“It can cause a heart block where your heart rate will slow down into the 40s, 30s, I’ve even seen it down to the 20s. So, 20 beats per minute,” said Dr. Kristopher Paolino, an infectious disease expert at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, New York.

Lyme disease is spread by the deer tick or black-legged tick. It’s a bacterial infection that can have different affects on different people.

“Depression, anxiety, panic,” Paolino said. “I’ve seen panic disorders develop after having Lyme and developing the infection.”

In some cases, it can affect the heart or even your mental health.

“You can develop a rash that classically looks like a bullseye but not always,” Paolino said. “People don’t see a bullseye, so they don’t think it’s Lyme disease.”

Nursery experts say one of the best things you can do to keep ticks away is to keep your yard neat and clean.

“Maintain a clean garden, yard and keep everything mowed to help maintain the tick population,” said nursery manager Carl Vranek.

Aside from some chemicals you can use to keep ticks away, you can also plant some natural barriers. Plants with odors, such as marigolds, lavender or gardenias, help keep ticks away.

This week, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced what he called a ‘war on ticks.’ It’s a $160 million initiative to stop tick-borne diseases through research and education.

If you think you’ve been bitten by a tick, see a doctor right away.