Disease

Kissing bugs found in more than half the US – Chagas disease

After recent reports of locally acquired Chagas disease in a dozen people in Texas, plus hundreds of dogs, the media has been flooded with hundreds of reports on the Triatomine bug, or kissing bug and the parasitic infection it can carry, Chagas disease.

In July 2013, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said that 11 different triatomine species were found in at least 28 US states, although most cases diagnosed with Chagas contracted it outside the country.

Chagas disease is transmitted naturally in North, Central, and South America. In parts of Mexico and Central and South America, where Chagas disease is considered highly endemic, it is estimated that approximately 8 million people are infected.

The Triatoma or “kissing” bug frequently carry for life the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. T. cruzi is a comma shaped flagellated parasite and the cause of an acute and chronic disease called Chagas.

The triatoma bug can be found in poorly constructed homes, with cracks and crevices in the walls or those with thatch roofs. They can also be found in palm trees and the fronds.

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