• Allison McMIllian

Dangerous 'kissing' bugs now in the U.S.

Just recently, an insect named the triatomines, or “kissing bug,” was spotted for the first time in the United States. It is originally from Central and South America, as well as Mexico. This bug is similar to a mosquito: it drinks blood and transfers diseases, according to Fox News.

The most recent disease this bug has been carrying is called Chagas disease. The disease is caused by trypanosomes, which cause damage to the heart and central nervous system. It is also called a “silent killer” because not everybody will show symptoms. At least of 70 percent of people doesn’t show any sign of the disease.

"Early detection of Chagas disease is critical, allowing prompt initiation of therapy when the evidence for cure is strong,” Caryn Bern, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California in San Francisco, warned in an online statement.

There are at least eight million people who have been infected with the disease and 300,000 in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent report was in December 2017.

The bugs typically bite their victims' faces (hence the name "kissing bug") and transfer the disease. Then they defecate near the wound. The bug can get rubbed into the body if a person rubs the wound.

"If untreated, infection is lifelong and can be life threatening," the CDC warns.

So far, there are a total of 11 different types of kissing bugs in the U.S.. They are mainly around the Mexico boarder, but have been found in 28 different states across the country.

"Previous studies have found that, on average, 50% of kissing bugs are infected with the Chagas parasite," the Texas researchers wrote on a website that details their extensive studies of the insects.