Arkansans spot the DEADLY ‘kissing bug’ aka ‘love bug’ both cousins to the ‘bed bug’ – all transmit the deadly Chagas disease

August 3, 2014 | Northwest Arkansas News
MAUMELLE, AR — A bug known as the “kissing bug” carrying a deadly disease has reached The Natural State.

On Sunday, a Maumelle couple found one of these bugs just a few feet from their door.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about a life-threatening illness caused by “kissing bugs” known as Chagas, typically spotted in Texas and Virginia.  The CDC has reported infections in Arkansas, Arizona, Tennessee and Texas and is warning Floridians about the potentially deadly disease.

The Mauellle couple says they were sitting on their porch Saturday when they saw a large bug crawling towards the door. That’s when they captured it and started looking on the internet. They say it’s one of the kissing bugs.

Justin Kurtz said, “Having a two-year-old daughter and a couple of pets laying around. You know I am very concerned over their safety because if you are sleeping in the middle of the night and this thing gets in the house, it can crawl on you then it can bite you. You can contract this potential fatal disease.”

The Arkansas Health Department says they are in the process of getting it listed as a reportable disease. But not all of the kissing bugs carry the disease. If you do find one in your home, contact your local health department.

According to the CDC, there’s usually swelling and redness around the bite area. Also it can cause rash, swollen lymph nodes, head and body aches and vomiting. If it’s not treated, the symptoms could get more severe and impact the heart and tissues of the gastrointestinal tract.

Chagas disease affects about 7 million people worldwide and can cause premature heart failure or gastrointestinal issues. If you suspect you may have contracted the disease, you should see a health care professional right away since the disease can be life-threatening if left untreated. If you find a kissing bug, the CDC says not to touch or squash the bug. Instead, place a container on top of the bug, slide the bug inside, and fill it with rubbing alcohol or 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, or contact the CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria for identification or testing.

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