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When your backyard attacks

Posted by Ralph Ranalli May 27, 2007 07:04 AM

tick.jpg
Summer ticks some people off
(AP photo)

REGION

Critter bites can range from itchy and annoying to debilitating or even fatal. But what lurks in the backyard that actually should be feared?

"That an animal can do us harm, it's an innate fear that goes way back," said Robert Buchsbaum, a naturalist with the Massachusetts Audubon Society in Wenham. "People get really concerned."

The answer is -- the creatures that transmit diseases, though rare, such as rabies, West Nile, and Eastern equine encephalitis, which vie for the status as public enemy number one. No bug is more despised (except, perhaps, the mosquito) than the deer tick, which carries Lyme and other diseases, Globe West correspondent Ann Butler reports in a front-of-the-section story today.

"One of the most insidious things about ticks is that they love the same landscape we do," said Stephen Rich, a medical entomologist who heads the diagnostic lab for tick assessment at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. "We like yards with nice shrubs that border woodlands and so do they. They're perfect tick and deer habitats."

According to Rich, 40 to 60 percent of ticks in the state are infected with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

Read Ann's story and check out a photo gallery of animals around us that can be dangerous or just plain annoying.

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