Where have they been? Deadly ‘kissing bug’ spreads to other states besides Texas

Fox_Boston   November 23, 2015 | Boston, MA

A deadly insect known as the “kissing bug” has recently been reported in Georgia and possibly Pennsylvania, as well as Texas.

Texas officials said recently at least 12 people in their state have been infected with a parasite connected to the insect.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the insects — called triatomine bugs — may carry a parasite that causes Chagas disease, which — if left untreated — can cause sudden death. Kissing bugs get their nickname because they favor biting human faces and lips at night.

It was not clear exactly where in Georgia the insect was reported, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In Pittsburgh, after an on-air report about the bug, viewers sent in photos to WPXI  and a curator at the Pittsburgh Zoo said the photos did appear to show “kissing bugs.” However, the station reported that no cases of Chagas disease had been confirmed in Pennsylvania.


How to protect against the ‘kissing bug’

The CDC says that the bugs are typically found anywhere from under porches or cement, in animal burrows, chicken coops or even outdoor dog houses or kennels.

To keep the insects away from your home, the CDC says to use the following precautions:

  • Seal cracks and gaps around windows, walls, roofs, and doors
  • Remove wood, brush, and rock piles near your house
  • Use screens on doors and windows and repairing any holes or tears
  • If possible, make sure yard lights are not close to your house (lights can attract the bugs)
  • Seal holes and cracks leading to the attic, crawl spaces below the house, and to the outside
  • Have pets sleep indoors, especially at night
  • Keep your house and any outdoor pet resting areas clean, in addition to periodically checking both areas for the presence of bugs

If you think you’ve found a triatomine bug, the CDC urges not to touch or squash the bug, but place a container on top of it, slide the bug inside and fill it with rubbing alcohol.

If you do not have rubbing alcohol available, the CDC says to freeze the bug in the container before you take it to your local extension service or university laboratory.

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