CDC Warns Bugs Are Spreading A Dangerous Disease Around The United States

Matt Lillywhite

Texas (and many other states) are currently facing a massive battle against Covid-19. But unfortunately, that's not the only disease the country will have to deal with during 2021. The Kissing Bug spreads a parasite that causes Chagas disease. Quoting the CDC: "Chagas disease occurs immediately after infection, and can last up to a few weeks or months. During the acute phase, parasites may be found in the circulating blood. This phase of infection is usually mild or asymptomatic.

There may be fever or swelling around the site of inoculation (where the parasite entered into the skin or mucous membrane). Rarely, an acute infection may result in severe inflammation of the heart muscle or the brain and lining around the brain." And if that didn't sound horrific enough, the disease kills approximately 10,000 people each year.

Kissing Bugs Have Been Found In Many Places Throughout The U.S.

In the Americas, kissing bugs have been found in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and several countries in South America. Kissing bugs can also be found in several southern states such as Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Here's a map which shows the distribution of kissing bugs across the United States:
States where kissing bugs have been identified.DSHS Texas

Kissing bugs are mainly found in southern states. However, they have also been known to live in several other regions. If you want to identify them, the majority of species have an orange or red stripe across their body. Their legs are also long, slender, and thin all the way down (see images at the bottom of this article).

Here's What You Need To Know.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, "An estimated 300,000 people with Chagas disease live in the U.S. However, this is an estimate from infections that originate from Latin America and does not take into account people who may have been infected in the U.S."

The CDC says Chagas disease is transmitted mainly through the feces of infected kissing bugs. When a blood-feeding kissing bug bites a human or animal, it may defecate near the bite site or near an eye, mouth, or nose and leave its excrement nearby. Since the parasite is in the feces, when a person or animal scratches the region, the parasite enters the bloodstream and causes illness.

Cardiac issues, such as heart failure, an enlarged heart, an altered heart rate/rhythm, and cardiac arrest are the most often reported symptoms of severe Chagas disease. It's important to note that the infection is both life-long and life-threatening if left untreated.

To identify the bugs in your home (or anywhere else), here are several examples of different species:
Photo by Curtis-Robles et al (wikimedia commons)

Are you concerned about emerging diseases? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered health advice. Please consult a doctor before making any decisions that may impact your health.

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