Not many people have probably heard of the insect called, the kissing bug. And some may not realize just how deadly this bug really is.
The kissing bug, also known as triatominae, ” because it can feed on the blood of mammals, is native to North Carolina and much of the southern and middle United States, North Carolina State University entomologists said, has the many appearances , but according to the Orkin website, the most common one are the bloodsucking conenose bug, Triatoma sanguisuga (LeConte), and the western bloodsucking conenose bug, Triatoma protracta (Uhler). And while some are dark brown or black, some species have red, yellow or tan markings on the abdomen.
Usually seen around summer through fall, the rate of kissing bugs in southern states are climbing. New reports show that North Carolina are on high alerts for these insects and some being found inside of homes. While some will argue that kissing bugs aren’t that deadly, reports show that residents of Nc should be on high alert for these creatures, for if bitten by one, that infected person can contact what is known as, Chagas disease.
According to Web MD, there are two phases of the disease, during the first (or acute) phase, symptoms are usually mild. But might include, flu like symptoms along with a rash, vomiting and diarrhea, and or a loss of appetite. If these symptoms present themselves, they normally fade on their own in weeks or even months. Those at a higher risk include young children and those with weak immune systems. The most important part to remember though, is that while the symptoms may go away, the parasite can still remain in the body. It can stay dormant for years or even decades.
The bug has raised concern because it can be a host to a parasite that causes the potentially deadly Chagas disease, Dr. Matt Bertone of North Carolina State University’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic said. Each year, millions of people are diagnosed with Chagas disease, but the cases are concentrated in South and Central America. Most people who are diagnosed with the disease in the United States contract it abroad.
Chagas disease is considered one of the neglected parasitic infections (NPI), a group of five parasitic diseases that have been targeted by CDC for public health action. The signs of someone being bitten by a kissing bug are red welts or swellings that can be present on the surface of the skin or beneath the surface; both will cause irritation that will itch intensely. Flushing will sometimes occur on the victim around the swellings, but cases of flushing have been found on the recipients’ extremities, with hands, fingers and feet experiencing markedly red areas.
If you see a kissing bug, never touch a kissing bug with a bare hand because the parasite they may harbor can be transmitted to humans and other animals. Instead, use a glove or small plastic bag to catch the bug to avoid direct contact with the bug. Store the bug in a sealed plastic bag, in a vial, or other small container, all of which are acceptable. All surfaces with which the bug came into contact should be thoroughly cleaned with a bleach solution. And if you think you have been bitten by one, seek medical attention immediately to prevent the infection from spreading and or getting worse.