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They Call It the “Killer Bug” and If You See One Get Help Immediately

Animals

They Call It the “Killer Bug” and If You See One Get Help Immediately

Assassin BugPhoto by goingslo

The triatomine bug can cause the spread of a highly hazardous disease called American Trypanosomiasis – also known as Chagas Disease. Chagas disease is also known as “the silent killer” because people don’t know they have it until the disease has progressed to later stages. It is deadly to humans and pets.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the triatomine bug, also known as the “kissing bug”, has made its way to Georgia. The CDC says there have been sightings of the bug in some Southern States. It’s unclear when, where or how many of the bugs have been reported. The kissing bug feeds on the blood of mammals, including people, and may carry a parasite that causes Chagas disease – which the CDC noted can be fatal if left untreated.

Patricia Dorn, an expert on kissing bugs at Loyola University, said that the chances of encountering this bug are much higher for the people living in the southern United States, Mexico, Central America or South America. But don’t think you’re not in danger if you don’t live in the bottom two-thirds of the United States, because climate changes will make these pesky bugs drift further north in the future.

Among the 12 species of kissing bugs that live in the mainland United States, most of them like to reside in wooded areas far from human habitations. If these pesky bugs could choose their ideal habitat, they would likely choose to live in close to their hosts, which include a variety of wild animals like rodents, possums and raccoons.

Triatominae or kissing bugs feed on blood. For dogs that is the area around their mouths and eyes. The disease is contracted when the bug bites and injects its feces into the wound. People who are infected with the Chagas disease can live for many years without showing any symptoms of having it, according to the World Health Organization.

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WHO said that up to 30% of infected people suffer from cardiac disorders and up to 10% suffer from digestive (usually enlargement of the oesophagus or colon), neurological or mixed alterations. In later stages the Chagas disease can cause sudden death or heart failure caused by progressive destruction of the heart muscle. She added that it is spread through their feces, so, when these insects bite you they rub their abdomen on you and it can spread through their feces through the wound.

Keeping these bugs far from your home requires making your home inhospitable and uninviting. People should double check around their homes for cracks and holes because this bug usually hides under beds and mattresses.

Assassin (kissing) bugPhoto by Pasha Kirillov

You can try to shut off strong exterior lights or switch to yellow bulbs instead. You can also hire an experienced professional to help you reduce their population. 

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