Many people are terrified of bugs and spiders. They are creepy and crawly and some of them, like cockroaches for instance, are pretty darn disgusting. And if you’ve been watching the news recently, you know that mosquitoes, which have always carried virus, now brought a strand of the Zika virus into America. It’s a terrifying prospect to say the least.
While a lot of people’s fears about insects may be unfounded, if you see one of these in your backyard, you should be scared. Thousands, if not millions, of people in Texas have been exposed to an outbreak of this critter. And it carries a parasite-caused illness that, if left untreated, can cause death for humans and their pets…
This bug is part of a genus of bugs called triatoma or more commonly referred to as “kissing bugs.” You might recall hearing about them over the last few summers – that’s because they’re becoming more and more common in the southern United States.
The reason these kissing bugs keep making headlines isn’t because of how gross they look. While they are a little creepy, they’re actually carrying a potentially deadly parasite-caused infection called Chagas disease.
If contracted and untreated, Chagas disease can kill.
Recently, Texas A&M University established a research lab designed to monitor and study the spread of these seemingly-innocent bugs that pose a major threat to humans and their pets like dogs.
Fortunately, the researchers have discovered that the bugs don’t seem to be spreading too much. The recent outbreak of Chagas disease in Texas does not seem to be due to a “foreign invasion” of these deadly carrying bugs.
Instead, more and more Texans are moving to areas where these blood-sucking insects call home as suburbia creeps out into the nether lands of Texas.
Hundreds of people have contacted TAMU asking for help in identifying the kissing bug as well as how to deal with it.
Many of these reports are false alarms including similar looking bugs like the leaf-footed, squash, and stink bugs. They do resemble the kissing bugs somewhat but they do not carry Chagas disease. And if you look carefully, you’ll notice differences.
But what do you do if you’ve been bitten by a kissing bug? Here’s your answer.
Whether you’ve just seen one or think you’ve been bit by a kissing bug, follow these steps before you rush yourself to the hospital for treatment.
- Don’t use your bare hands to touch the insect
- Trap the insect in a sealable plastic bag, film canister, or pill bottle.
- Freeze the bug. This will kill it and also preserve it for study.
- Disinfect any surface it has touched with bleach.
- Take a good picture of the bug, and inspect it carefully to ensure it’s not something else.
- Send the picture to TAMU with a message informing them of where/how you found it.
If you want to report a kissing bug to Texas A&M visit this link.
These kissing bugs are no joke. Chagas disease can be deadly. Watch the video below for more information about how to deal with this growing threat.
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