HOUSTON, TEXAS (CNN) | November 24, 2015
The kissing bug is making a comeback in Texas and has recently been spotted in Georgia too.
The name sounds cute but a bite from this bug can be deadly.
“They look a little darker than a cockroach, heart shell”, said Dr. Laila Woc-colburn of Baylor College.
Take a good look at these little guys. Dr Laila Woc-colburn knows these silent killers well.
It starts with a single bite from a kissing bug.
The kissing bug likes to hide in tree bark. It comes out to feed at night.
It can bite you anywhere, but most people, when they go to sleep, they’ve got their neck and face exposed.
That’s where the nickname comes from. The bug carries a parasite which causes the infectious disease, chagas.
How you get it is pretty gross.
“When you have a bite you usually scratch and when you scratch you get the stuff that the bug defecated into your arm and those have the little parasite that looks like an “s”. The tripminisoma gets into you”, said Dr. Woc-colburn.
Most people experience flu-like symptoms for a few days after they are bitten and then may feel nothing unusual for years to come.
About 70 percent of people can survive it with treatment, for the rest the disease is fatal.
“In Latin America, it can affect more than 30 million people. Usually low income where they don’t have access to care”, said Dr. Woccolburn.
There are seven confirmed cases in Harris county so far.
A health department spokeswoman told me they’re working on an educational campaign now to raise awareness.
Yes, they are here.
So be on the look-out for the kissing bug, especially if you are in wooded areas.
There are treatments for chagas, but so far no vaccine available.