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What You Need to Know about the Kissing Bug

You don’t want these insects hanging around and there is nothing lovable about them.  They are commonly called kissing bugs because of their tendency to bite near the face and lips of mammals.  They are blood suckers and therefore transmit disease.  The solution to staying safe is fairly simple, but first, here is some more information on these disease transmitting invaders.

Migrating Monsters

While these insects are only around an inch long they are very creepy to behold.  Their official name is triatomine bug and they carry a deadly parasite that transmits the harmful disease.  They originate from Central and South America, but this year marks a record level in the United States.  They are predominately plaguing the southern states, with CDC confirmed cases in 28 states.  They are most active at night, but you can find them fairly easy on porches, the side of your home and around the outside of the home during the day.

Potential Kiss of Death

According to a recent evaluation of the current populations by the Texas A&M’s Veterinary and Biomedical school, 50% of the sampled kissing bugs were actively carrying the parasite that carries the deadly virus.  The parasite that is found in the kissing bug’s dung is called Trypanosoma cruzi.  That parasite transmits the Chagas disease that can cause death in severe cases.

Symptoms of Chagas Disease

It should be kept in mind that severe infection is rare and most symptoms are mild.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Fever

Chagas disease can and should be medically treated to cure the disease and prevent a chronic phase from developing.  The chronic phase is characterized by cardiac problems, neurological alterations, and digestive troubles.  However, even in the chronic phase anti-parasitic medications may reverse the effects and prevent premature death.

Transmission

Even though around half of the kissing bugs carry the diseased parasites, transmission of the Chagas disease is less than 10% of all bites from the infected beetles.  That is because even if a parasitic bug bites you, or your pet, their dung has to be rubbed into the small open bite wound.  Ready to call the pest control company yet?

Tips While You Wait

If you don’t already have a quarterly service set up, it shouldn’t take long for someone to come out to your home.  In the meantime, tidy up a bit.  Seal any gaps around your windows and replace deteriorated weather stripping in doorways.  Keep areas around your house free from clutter and brush for the bugs to hide in.  If you have pets that usually sleep outside, allow them to come into the home at night, even in a crate, to prevent the most likely nocturnal bites.  It is the end of their season and they are aggressively looking for ways in homes to survive the winter.

12 Jan
2016

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