According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a murderous bug has been found in southern regions of the United States. You should be extremely precautious. Even though the bug doesn’t look harmful at all, it can carry a Trypanosoma cruzi parasite that causes Chagas disease. These bugs are generally located in the southern United States, Mexico, Central America and South America. Almost 8 million people are infected by this parasite, worldwide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is not easy for this bug to give a human Chagas disease. The disease is transmitted through the bug’s feces. A person can only get Chagas disease from this lethal bug if the feces get rubbed into a bite wound or enter through an exposed body part such as the mouth or eyes. The species mainly found in southern regions in the United States looks alike to the species that are common to Chagas disease.
The tiny insect feeds on human blood much like a mosquito, but it is specific to biting the face of its victims. The bite from this deadly bug starts to itch and as the host scratches the bite introducing the pathogen. People who are bitten don’t normally feel sick, so they don’t seek medical care. But, it ends up causing heart disease in about 30% of those who are infected.
Famous as the triatomine bug — or less informally the “kissing bug” — according to 11-ALIVE News, the insect has been reported all across the southern regions of the United States. Below, you can see all the states that have reported the bug’s presence.
Our native species are able to carry the Chagas Disease pathogen, but they don’t defecate as part of their feeding behavior, so the pathogen is not transmitted to humans. If you believe you may have discovered one of the bugs you can bring the sample to your closest CDC office.
The CDC says these bugs can live in cracks and holes indoors and in outdoor spaces including:
- Beneath porches
- Between rocky structures
- Under cement
- In rock, wood, brush piles, or beneath bark
- In rodent nests or animal burrows
- In outdoor dog houses or kennels
- In chicken coops or houses
To keep these bugs away from you home, the CDC suggests:
- Sealing cracks and gaps around windows, walls, roofs, and doors
- Removing wood, brush, and rock piles near your house
- Using screens on doors and windows and repairing any holes or tears
- If possible, making sure yard lights are not close to your house
- Having pets sleep indoors, especially at night
- Keeping your house and any outdoor pet resting areas clean
If you think you’ve found this dangerous bug, the CDC suggests that you should not touch or kill the bug. Place a container on top of the bug, slide the bug inside, and fill it with rubbing alcohol or, if it’s not possible, freeze the bug in the container. Then, you may take it to your local extension service, health department, or a university laboratory for species identification.