All About Kissing Bugs and Chagas Illness – PestWorld


By: Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist and vice chairman of technical and regulatory affairs for the Nationwide Pest Administration Affiliation (NPMA)

Kissing bug. With such an innocuous identify, it might appear as if this bug needs to be the official mascot of Valentine’s Day. Nonetheless, the insect – named for its behavior of biting people on and across the lips – is a pest and is by no means a logo of Cupid’s vacation. They’re usually discovered within the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Kissing bugs are able to carrying a parasite that causes Chagas disease, an sickness that has troubled tens of millions of individuals in South America. The illness is one the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized for “public well being motion.” Whereas circumstances have been extraordinarily uncommon in the USA, a latest research printed within the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal discovered that just about 40 p.c of kissing bugs collected in California and Arizona had not too long ago consumed human blood. Researchers stated the findings had been sudden as a result of the 11 species of kissing bugs present in the USA weren’t identified to feed on folks.  

Traits of Kissing Bugs

Kissing bugs, (Triatoma spp.) are true bugs within the household Reduviidae, are roughly 25mm/1 inch lengthy.  Whereas there are a selection of species, they’re all usually brown or black with a purple, yellow, or brown mark on their stomach. They’re associated to the South Americanbarbeiro, or conenose. These bugs feed on blood at evening, usually from small mammals and birds however as famous above, generally people as properly.  The nymphs require a blood meal to assist their development and maturation. It’s value noting, kissing bugs usually are not related to mattress bugs, a pest extra distinguished of late for feeding on human hosts. 

Threats Posed by Kissing Bugs

The insect’s feces can comprise the protozoa Trypanosoma cruzi which causes Chagas illness. Contact with contaminated feces, by means of an open wound, or by means of the eyes or mouth, may end up in illness transmission. For many people who find themselves bitten by a kissing bug, the contact will not be a memorable one. In actual fact, most people who find themselves bitten don’t recall the chunk and even fewer present any kind of response.  Some, with specific pores and skin sensitivities or allergic reactions to the bug’s saliva, will exhibit indicators of itching, website swelling, and many others. 

Signs of Chagas Illness

Signs of Chagas illness embody fever, fatigue, physique aches, headache, a rash the place the parasite entered the physique and swelling across the eyelids. With therapy by a medical skilled these signs often fade, however cardiac points, intestinal issues, and different extra critical issues can generally develop. 

The best way to Stop Contact With Kissing Bugs

The first suggestion for stopping kissing bugs is exclusion – that’s, take away entry factors from your house:

  • Seal cracks and holes, each indoors and out.
  • Change weather-stripping and restore unfastened mortar across the basement and home windows.
  • Guarantee there is no such thing as a hole beneath your door; for those who can see mild from the outside beneath a door, bugs can match by means of the opening into your house.
  • As well as, outdoor take away nesting areas and meals sources for nuisance wildlife that would function hosts for kissing bugs. Particles piles needs to be usually eliminated out of your yard. Firewood needs to be saved at the very least 20 toes from your home. 

There are lots of intently associated bugs that look just like kissing bugs. In case you are involved that you’ll have kissing bugs in or round your house, contact a trained and licensed pest professional who can examine, and if crucial, deal with the issue. Based on the CDC, the chance of contracting Chagas illness in the USA is low, even when bitten by an contaminated bug. Nonetheless, for those who concern that you’ll have been bitten by a kissing bug and are involved about illness publicity, seek the advice of a medical skilled.