National Geographic : 2002 Feb
During part of the cycle that perpetuates Lyme dis ease, adult ticks feed on deer. More deer mean more ticks and more illness. "In 1896, it's estimated, there were 12 deer in Connecticut," says Stafford. "The latest figure is more than 76,000." Bitten by a sand fly carry ing the leishmania parasite, a Guatemalan subsistence farmer bears lesions "People want forests around their houses in Connecticut, so they're building up the trees. It's deer heaven now, and there are ticks everywhere." -KAREN KASMAUSKI characteristic of infection (left). If the disease is not treated, such lesions can take months or years to heal and result in permanent scarring. Economic necessity and political pressures send more and more campesinos into sand fly territory, the untouched rain forest in the country's north. Following an age-old rhythm, farmers from the village of Tierra Blanca in the Peten have abandoned their exhausted fields and slashed-and-burned trees (above) to begin planting their crops anew. In other areas of the forest the govern ment has resettled people dis placed by the country's long civil war. Their homes, built in the shadow of the forest, put whole families in jeopardy.