‘Kissing Bugs’ becoming a growing concern
The so-called “kissing bug,” an insect that carries a deadly parasite that can cause Chagas disease, is becoming a growing concern in the United States, especially in Texas and Virginia.
Though the bugs are native to Mexico and Central and South America — there are an estimated 8 million people infected there — more and more cases are popping up in the U.S., according to The Atlantic.
Cardiologist Dr. Rachel Marcus told the news site that northern Virginia, in particular, could be “ground zero” for Chagas disease because of increasing number of Bolivian immigrants there.
Similarly, researchers at Texas A&M told KFDX.com they’ve discovered kissing bugs in Dallas.
Kissing bugs, or triatomine insects, transmit a parasite that causes Chagas disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to death. Infected people can live for many years without even knowing they have the disease, the World Health Organization reported. The parasites often live in the heart and digestive muscles, with as many as 30 percent of patients suffering from cardiac disorders and as many as 10 percent suffering from digestive problems.
Susan Montgomery, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Atlantic that U.S. doctors started hearing more about Chagas disease in 2007 when blood bank workers began screening for the disease.
Susan Morris, with the Wichita County Public Health District in Texas, told KFDX.com that the kissing bug infestation there is “worse this year because we’ve been in drought for the past few years and people are really collecting that water so we’ve had a lot of mosquitoes all over town.”