The “Kissing Bug” doesn´t sound like a very threatening insect, but the truth is that because of this bug hundreds of dogs have died in Texas and other southern states in America.
You may have heard the name of the disease before, it is called Chagas disease and is caused by a parasite known as Trypanosoma Cruzi. The parasite is carried by the “Kissing Bug” and is spread by the feces of the bugs. The Kissing Bug feeds on blood usually around the eyes and mouth of a pet while they are sleeping.
The disease was first described in 1909 by the Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas, after whom it is named.Chagas disease is classified as a neglected tropical disease. It affects more than 150 other animals. It is far more common to find chagas diseases cases in Latin America but it seems that now it is spreading to the north.
The Chagas disease is transmitted to both animals and humans when their fecal matter enters the body through open wounds, cuts, or mucous membranes. Naturally, some pets may also become infected when they eat the insects if they find them in their yard, which is something very common.
The biggest problem with this disease is that is not easy to detect until it has caused major damage until it has progressed to a later stage where the heart can be compromised. When that happens the disease is untreatable.
Some of the symptoms include swelling of the eyelids and throat (most of the times mistaken for flu symptoms) but in this case, these common symptoms can become worse and more painful and can even cause asphyxiation.
Don´t panic this is not an epidemic, but these bugs can be found in all southern states and they usually live under rocks and cement, in the forest, in wall cracks or outdoor pet houses, so it is important to know how to prevent it.
There is currently no vaccine for Chagas disease. Prevention is generally focused on decreasing the numbers of the insect that spreads it and decreasing their contact with humans. This is done by using sprays and paints containing insecticides (synthetic), and improving housing and sanitary conditions in rural areas.
Let´s warn others about this “silent killer” and share this post!