Government officials are warning people about kissing bugs and the deadly disease they are able to spread following the insect bit a woman in Delaware. Kissing bugs (also referred to as triatoma sanguisuga) are most prevalent in Latin America, which was the very first time you have been spotted in Delaware.
Kissing bugs have also been spotted in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and states across the southern U.S., according to CDC data. And, while the bug’s name sounds innocent enough, it can spread a deadly infection called Chagas disease that can cause lifelong problems-and even death-for patients.
What are kissing bugs?
Kissing bugs are a type of reduviid bug, which is a winged insect, the CDC says. Kissing bugs can fly, but they usually get around by crawling. And while kissing bugs can look like boxelder bugs, which are common in western states, they’re not the same thing.
These bugs feed on human blood, and then poop on or near a person while they’re feeding on their blood (usually while the person is sleeping). People often will accidentally rub the poop into the bite wound or a mucus membrane, like their eyes or mouth, and the poop can enter their human body. And, at these times, they’re vulnerable to contracting Chagas disease, a possibly deadly infection that kissing bugs can carry.
What’s Chagas disease?
Kissing bugs can hold the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi), and that may trigger Chagas disease. Not absolutely all kissing bugs carry the condition, nevertheless they certainly have the potential.
Chagas disease has two phases: The acute stage, which happens for the first of all few weeks or weeks after you’ve been infected, accompanied by the chronic phase, that may come up from 10 to twenty years after you’ve been bitten by a kissing bug, the CDC says.
During the acute stage, you can form the following symptoms:
Enlargement of your liver or spleen
Localized swelling where in fact the parasite experienced your body
Swelling of the eyelids privately of your face nearby the bite wound
Where do kissing bugs hide in a home?
In general, kissing bugs like to hide in cracks, under brush piles, and porches, says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “Usually they’re found in places where there’s sub-standard housing,” he says. “It’s hard for them to get inside most homes because of plastered walls and things being sealed.”
Should you be worried about kissing bugs?
It was once thought that kissing bugs were only found in Latin America or along border states, like Texas, but data (and sightings like the latest one in Delaware) have shown that’s not the circumstance, Dr. Adalja says.