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Experts Warn Of Bug That Can Cause Chagas Disease

Experts Warn Of Bug That Can Cause Chagas Disease Promo Image

Experts are warning about the dangers of a bug that can cause humans bodily harm and even death.

The bug is known as the triatomine bug, or the kissing bug, reported. While the name may appear endearing, these bugs are considered dangerous and have been spreading all throughout the United States.

Triatomine bugs feed mostly off of the blood of mammals, including humans, livestock, dogs, and etc. They are attracted to carbon dioxide, leaving the face and nose area vulnerable to a visit from the critter.

A bite alone from the triatomine bug is not considered lethal to humans. However, if the bug is infected with the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and defecates into the wound afterwards, it can cause Chagas disease, CNN reported.

Chagas disease can be deadly if untreated. It causes flu-like symptoms, and 20 to 30 percent of people infected with the disease can also contract other chronic conditions such as chest pain, difficulty breathing and -- in extreme cases -- sudden death. The symptoms can also remain dormant for as long as 20 years, KFVS reported.

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While not every kissing bug harbors the parasite, experts emphasized the importance of being aware of potential risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued a map highlighting areas where the bug has been reported.

Symptoms to look out for if bitten include rash, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. The bugs are known to hide in cracks and come out mostly at night, making it difficult to tell if you have been bitten.

Some of the more efficient ways to protect yourself from the kissing bug include checking your pet's bedding, sealing any and all cracks or holes in your home, keeping outdoor lights off at night and keeping any wood or brush piles distant from your home.

Bug spray is not considered an effective tool against the triatomine bug. The insect is known to be resilient to it.

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The kissing bug has been spotted in 28 states so far and are more common in the south. However, the bug has been reported in Pennsylvania and possibly New Jersey.

According to the CDC, there have been 300,000 cases of Chagas disease in the country. Still, contracting the disease is considered unlikely.

"It's great we are heightening our awareness -- but we don't need to be terribly scared," Sarah Hamer, assistant professor of epidemiology at Texas A&M's veterinary and biomedical school, told CNN. "The bug has to be there, blood feed, and the parasite needs to be rubbed in, and that's a lot to have to's more rare for kissing bugs to feed on people than mosquitos to feed on people."

Sources:, CNN, KFVS via WECT, CDC / Featured Image: CDC/World Health Organization via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: CDC

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