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Category: kissing bugs

News of the Kissing Bug

Over the past few months the Kissing Bug (Triatoma sanguisuga or Triatoma protracta) and also called Conenose has been making headlines across the country.  Social Media platforms and news media outlets have been discussing the spread and danger of this nasty little bug.  This bug is known as the Kissing Bug because many times this pest bites its victims on the lips or face.  Let’s look at the facts on the Kissing Bug and how this may impact us eventually in the northeast region.9gLKN745

  • The Kissing Bug is not a problem yet in Massachusetts or in any New England State. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has published a map illustrating where this bug has been reported as well as where there may be potential problems with this bug.
  • This bug is described as being dark colored and 14-24 mm long.
  • Kissing bugs are blood-suckers, like mosquitoes, ticks and tse-tse flies. They usually feed just after sunset.
  • They are attracted to the light in our houses, the odors that we exhale, skin odors, and to the warmth of our bodies. Kissing bugs who enter a house will feed on household pets as well as humans.
  • The Kissing Bug can be medically important.The insect’s feces can carry protozoa that can cause Chagas Disease.
  • There have been very few reports of this disease in the United States.
  • Not everyone shows symptoms of this disease.  During the first few months after a bite, only mild symptoms crop up, and these are hard to pin on Chagas—fever, fatigue, body aches, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. The most distinctive sign is a swelling of the eyelids on the side of the face that was bitten. But there can be no signs at all.
  • The risk of picking up Chagas is still low in the U.S.—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates just 300,000 people in the nation carry the parasite responsible for the disease. But because people can be unknowing carriers for decades, estimated prevalence is hard.
  • The disease is not new.  In Central and South America doctors have been reporting on this insect and disease since 1909.
  • There are treatments for the disease.  Two medicines (benznidazole and nifurtimox?) are almost 100 percent effective in curing the disease if it’s caught in the first stage, according to The World Health Organization.