The “triatomine bugs” carry a deadly parasite and feed on the blood of mammals, including humans. Known as the ‘Kissing Bug’ and ‘Love Bug’ and both are cousins to the ‘Bed Bug’.
November 25, 2015 | by Tom Davis | Toms River Patch
A deadly insect known as the “kissing bug” could potentially be in New Jersey, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The “triatomine bugs” are primarily nocturnal and feed on the blood of mammals – including humans – as well as birds and reptiles. They often carry a parasite that causes Chagas disease, which can be fatal if left untreated, according to a CDC release.
The CDC says there have been sightings of the bug in southern states, the Pacific West, the Midwest and in Pennsylvania. But the CDC did not identify how many of the bugs have been reported.
In a map on its site the CDC identified all the states where reported sitings have occurred, noting there have been “potential” sitings of the bug in New Jersey and West Virginia.
Triatomine bugs live in a wide range of environmental settings, generally within close proximity to a blood host. In areas of Latin America where human Chagas disease is an important public health problem, the bugs nest in cracks and holes of substandard housing, according to the CDC.
Because most indoor structures in the United States are built with plastered walls and sealed entryways to prevent insect invasion, triatomine bugs rarely infest indoor areas of houses. Discovery of immature stages of the bug inside may be an indication of infestation, according to the CDC.
When the bugs are found inside, they are likely to be in one of the following settings:
- Near pet resting areas
- In areas of rodent infestation
- In and around beds and bedrooms, especially under or near mattresses or night stands
If you find the bug, the CDC recommends not touching or squash the bug.
“Place a container on top of the bug, slide the bug inside, and fill it with rubbing alcohol or, if not available, 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. In the event that none of these resources is available in your area, you may contact CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria (firstname.lastname@example.org) for species identification or T. cruzi testing.”
Any material containing bug parts or feces should also be submitted for testing, preferably in a plastic bag or clean sealable container, according to the CDC.
Tthe transmission of Chagas disease from a bug to a human is not easy. The parasite that causes the disease is in the bug feces. The bug generally defecates on or near a person while it is feeding on his or her blood, generally when the person is sleeping, according to the CDC.
Transmission occurs when fecal material gets rubbed into the bite wound or into a mucous membrane – for example, the eye or mouth – and the parasite enters the body, according to the CDC.