‘Kissing bug’ sickens more in Los Angeles than Zika and few know they have it – deadly Chagas disease

This insect bites people near the lips or eyes, inserts bacteria, then about 20 years later, the victim suffers a heart attack. Olive View-UCLA Medical

March 28, 2016 |by Susan Abram | Daily News, Los Angeles

This insect bites people near the lips or eyes, inserts bacteria, then about 20 years later, the victim suffers a heart attack.  Olive View-UCLA Medical Center is working to help detect Chagas. The clinic is holding community screenings across the San Fernando Valley to find people who may be infected.

Some call it the kissing bug because it leaves a painless bite near a sleeping person’s lips.

But among health experts, including those from the federal government, the cone-headed Triatomine is no prince awakening a sleeping beauty. It’s an assassin, because it leaves behind a parasite in its love bite that can be deadly.

Photos of the dime-size insect hang inside Dr. Sheba Meymandi’s medical office as if on a wanted poster. The bug, she said, carries the Chagas disease, which can cause heart failure if left untreated.

An estimated 300,000 people across the United States may have Chagas disease, Meymandi said, and the only place in the nation where it’s treated is the clinic she oversees at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar. Started in 2007, the Chagas clinic has treated 200 people, but Meymandi and her team said they are ready to take on more patients.

That’s why she and her staff are working with primary physicians at the four hospitals and 19 health clinics overseen by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. In addition, Providence Health & Services will offer Chagas screenings at a dozen free health clinics on Sundays at churches across the San Fernando Valley for the rest of the year. An upcoming screening will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. April 3 at New Hope of the Nazarene, 15055 Oxnard St, Van Nuys, California.

“It’s very clear that we need to diagnose early and treat early before the onset of complications,” said Meymandi, a cardiologist. Ten percent of those with Chagas suffer from heart failure, one of the most expensive conditions to treat, costing $32 billion year nationwide, she said. That figure could rise to $70 billion by 2030.

Chagas disease was once considered exotic, but more is known about it now than about the Zika virus. Still, most people have no idea they have it or, once they do, lack information about where to receive treatment, Meymandi said.

The disease is most common in rural Mexico and Latin America, researchers have said, adding that it kills more people in South America than malaria.Meymandi said anyone who was born in Mexico or South America should have a blood test.

But U.S.-born residents also are infected. The insect is present in more than 20 states. At least 40 percent of raccoons tested in Griffith Park carried Chagas disease, Meymandi said.

“Most of the people we see and treat in the U.S. have had it for decades,” Meymandi said. “We have the bug here, we have the parasite here. You can definitely acquire Chagas in the United States.”

An infected insect, which hides in dwellings made from mud, adobe, straw or palm thatch, crawls out at night to feed on blood. It is called the kissing bug because it feeds on a sleeper’s face, then defecates on the wound, leaving a parasite behind.

Infection takes place when the parasite enters the body through mucous membranes or broken skin, caused when the sleeper scratches the wound, eyes or mouth, according to the federal Centers for Disease and Prevention. The parasite can lie dormant for years, then cause heart disease, and if not found and treated, death.

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, body aches, headaches, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. But sometimes there are no symptoms until decades later.

Only two drugs exist to treat Chagas disease, and neither is approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration yet, though both can be provided through the CDC, Meymandi said.

“It’s very simple to treat,” Meymandi said. “But the process to go get the drugs is a challenge.”

Jose Duran, a Bellflower resident, said he learned he had Chagas disease after he tried to donate blood seven months ago. He said he would have never known he had Chagas disease otherwise. He had no symptoms.

“I went to donate blood for the first time, because I heard it was good for you to donate once in a while,” he said. Then he received a phone call.

It’s not uncommon for people to learn they have Chagas disease after donating blood, Meymandi and others said. In 2006, the Red Cross isolated 21 cases of Chagas in Southern California donors. In 2007, the figure more than doubled to 46. In 2008, there were 55 cases.

The National Red Cross would not provide additional figures.

“I got scared. I was like, wow, what is this?” the 40 year old Duran said of his reaction,when he learned what he had.

As a child, Duran lived on a ranch in Querétaro, a small state in north-central Mexico. His brother also tested positive for Chagas. He doesn’t remember being bitten, he said.

Duran was referred to the Chagas clinic and, after two months of treatment, learned Thursday he was in good health.

“Most people don’t know they have this,” he said. “If they get tested, they can get well.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

 

Listen to why ‘Don’t let the bed bugs bite’ is easier said than done

James Williams, head of furniture donations at the Impossible Dream thrift store, shows how he inspects mattresses for bedbugs.  Photo Brit Hanson for North Country Public Radio

March 21, 2016 | by Julie Botero | WRVO Public Media

Bedbugs, those creepy crawly pests that embed themselves into mattresses and furniture, are a problem in big cities across the country. The bugs have managed to find their way to smaller cities in the North Country.

Watertown is now dealing with the pests and the stigma that comes with them.

Back in September, a friend told me she was dealing with a serious bed bug issue. Her name is Kris Rusho and I gave her a call a few weeks ago to get the whole story.

“I happened to wake up early one morning — about 5:30 in the morning — and I looked down and I saw a bug on my arm and I smashed it with my hand and my hand came away with blood. My first thought was it was tick, but I started doing some research and found out those were bedbugs,” Rusho said. “I went to my car and cried.”

“I think what I’ve learned from this is that bedbugs can be in the nicest of houses,” she said.

Bedbugs are small but multiply quickly. Bedbugs are small and black like apple seeds. They bite people when they’re asleep. Those bites can cause allergic reactions that can get infected. Rusho had to throw away her mattress and clothing. She cried a little more and moved into a friend’s house. Even long after the bed bugs were gone, she couldn’t shake them.”I still suffered from these phantom itches and phantom bites where I’d wake up at 4 a.m., afraid,” she said. “It doesn’t go away for a little bit.”

Bed bugs can lead to loss of sleep and other mental issues that are as bad as the bites. They also hitch rides on clothing and furniture which allows them to spread to new homes. That is why they are a public health issue.

Steve Jennings, a member of the Watertown City Council who works with the county public health department, said his office, along with community nonprofits in Watertown, are getting calls from people asking for help. Jennings said the demand was so high, his office organized an education forum on the bugs.

He said the big takeaway was this: “Normal pesticides you’d buy at a drug store do not work with bed bugs. They are resistant. It really needs to be professionally abated,” he said.

But hiring a professional exterminator can be costly. A few months ago, one fed-up resident in a downtown apartment tried to concoct a homemade pesticide bomb. He ended up starting a fire in his apartment. Neighbors of Watertown, a group that owns six apartment buildings in the city, has already spent more than $20,000 trying to get rid of the bugs.

Jennings said everyone needs to work together on this.

“The tenants really have to do their part in controlling it. Don’t bring this stuff home. When you see it, take care of it,” he said.

At the Impossible Dream thrift store, shoppers browse through racks of clothing, used couches and coffee tables. The staff have to be extra cautions about what they allow in the store. James Williams oversees furniture donations. Williams showed me a binder with a laminated fact sheet. It details how to spot bedbugs. He pulled out a tiny flashlight and leaned over a couch.

“Before we even accept it, before we even take it off a customer’s truck we look at it thoroughly, we look at the seams like this, we pull up the cushions, we look in the corners. We’re looking for bedbugs,” he said.

The store hasn’t had any encounters with the critters. That is really important to the store, he said, since the last thing they want to do is pass on the problem.

Watertown has been working hard to make their downtown an attractive place to live. I asked people if this bedbug issue is thwarting that effort. Kris Rusho said the bedbugs are not just in downtown apartments.

“I think what I’ve learned from this is that bedbugs can be in the nicest of houses,” she said.

Rusho had advice for others dealing with the pests. “You have to get mad at the bed bugs and force yourself to deal with them.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

 

 

BedBugs Destroyed My Life – “Don’t Bring Them Home!”

  
March 19, 2016 | by Maryam Shah | Toronto Sun

She may be the unluckiest renter in Toronto.
Kathleen says bedbugs have forced her to move 11 times in the past six years.

The 45-year-old doesn’t even want her last name used because she says she’s already lost one job over the tiny critters.

“I was a normal person, I had a job and a nice apartment and this has completely broken my life,” she said.

She claims she first picked them up in 2010 after volunteering at a community centre in Regent Park.

That marked the beginning of a “downward spiral.”

Kathleen says she lost her job because she “made the mistake” of coming clean with her employers.

“I literally walked away with nothing but my health card in some cases, just trying to completely rid myself of them, only to end up in other buildings that were also infested,” she explained.

Now she lives outside of Toronto and wants all three levels of government — and the scientific community — to recognize bedbugs are a “national crisis.”

That’s why she spent Friday with placards outside City Hall, demanding more action in the battle against bedbugs.

“I went through all the proper protocol,” Kathleen said. “This isn’t a landlord and tenant issue anymore.”

She even had a friend — a private landlord from St. Catharines — dress up like a brown bedbug called Badness the Bedbug, which attracted curious looks from passersby.

The city’s website says if a landlord refuses to help with bedbugs, the tenant can contact a legal clinic, the landlord and tenant board, or Toronto Public Health.

#SayNoToPesticides!

Brit-itch Airways: Plane flies on despite bosses knowing it was infested with bloodsucking bed bugs

Main Image

Bug brother…BA jet was infested with BedBugs but airline bosses kept it flying and in service!  Passengers were bitten by infectious BED BUGS on BA flight.

February 25, 2016 | by Stephen Moyes | The Sun

A BRITISH Airways jet infested with bed bugs was allowed to keep flying as there was no time to disinfect it, staff claim.

Cabin crew logged the issue because passengers were bitten but bosses decided to keep the aircraft in service.

Staff hit out after the critters were spotted on a Boeing 747 from the US to Heathrow last week.

Coming to a seat near you ... close-up of a bed bug

Coming to a seat near you…aisle or window?

One passenger was nipped at 30,000ft and others saw the bugs and their eggs.

The problem was so serious that row 47 in the economy section was closed. But BA workers claim engineers did not have time to kill the creatures between flights.

The plane took off again and crew again had to deal with the bugs. Days later another “severe” infestation was reported as the jet flew from Cape Town to London.Last night it was claimed bugs were also seen on other flights by the 747 — now fully fumigated.

One passenger said: “This turns my stomach.”

A BA spokesman said: “Reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we continually monitor our aircraft.”

Blood suckers

BED bugs are small blood-sucking insects that live in cracks and crevices in and around beds or chairs.

Attracted by body heat and carbon dioxide, they bite exposed skin and feed on blood. Adult bed bugs look like lentils, oval, flat and up to 5mm long.

An infestation from one female can rise to 5,000 bed bugs in six months.

Mark Krafft last year took pics of bites he said he suffered on BA, below.

Vicious ... bed bug bites allegedly inflicted on BA passenger Mark Krafft last year
Vicious … bed bug bites allegedly inflicted on BA passenger Mark Krafft last year

A BA spokesman said: “Whenever any report of bed bugs is received, we launch a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, remove the aircraft from service and use specialist teams to treat it.

“The presence of bed bugs is an issue faced occasionally by hotels and airlines all over the world.

“British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare.

“Nevertheless, we are vigilant about the issue and continually monitor our aircraft.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Misled About BedBugs? Ask Real Estate

Apartment_BBS.jpg

Michael Kolomatsky/The New York Times

The New York Times | by Ronda Kaysen | November 21, 2014

Q. My wife and I recently signed a one-year lease for an apartment. It included a rider stating that all apartments in our building had been bedbug-free for at least one year before our move-in date. After we moved in, we learned from the superintendent that an apartment in our building had been infested by bedbugs and treated a few weeks before our move-in date. Needless to say, we were disturbed by this news — and want to know our rights. As we understand it, the landlord is responsible for the costs of fumigating. Who is responsible for other expenses, like replacing mattresses and furniture? Since we were misled (and have the signed rider as proof), can we demand remuneration for any repairs or replacement costs we might be forced to incur?

Astoria, Queens

A. There are two plausible explanations for what happened here, neither of them good. Either your landlord was woefully ill-informed about the state of the building or he lied. In either case, I would be concerned about how effectively the infested apartment was treated for bedbugs, which are notoriously hardy creatures.

“If this is a landlord who is willing to lie on a disclosure form,” said David Hershey-Webb, a lawyer who represents tenants, “then the tenants may not have a lot of faith in the landlord to adequately address the bedbug problem.”

The New York City administrative code requires landlords to disclose whether or not an apartment has been treated for bedbugs in the last year. The measure does not include any penalties for violating the law. However, if you do get bedbugs and incur damage to your personal property, you could take the landlord to small claims court and use that erroneous disclosure form as evidence of negligence. Under normal circumstances, a landlord is required to treat the infestation and a tenant is responsible for cleaning personal belongings, Mr. Hershey-Webb said.

But before we wander too far down the road of future infestations, determine your risk. If the affected apartment is adjacent to yours or in the same line, you have good reason for concern. But if several floors and walls separate you from that apartment, your risk is considerably lower.

“If it’s an immediately adjacent unit or if it’s in that line, it could have an effect,” said Gil Bloom, the president of Standard Pest Management and an entomologist. “Outside of that, it normally does not make a difference.”

Once you have assessed your risk, decide whether you want to stay in the apartment. Ultimately, you might want to consider packing up your belongings and moving out before the bugs move in. You “have the option to try to rescind the lease on the basis of fraud,” Mr. Hershey-Webb said. Consult with a lawyer to see if you can get out of the lease. Otherwise, you may find yourself battling a bedbug infestation with a dishonest landlord.

Providence & UCLA Team Up to Prevent deadly Chagas disease – the leading cause of heart failure worldwide.

Deadly Chagas disease is transmitted by the kissing bug, aka ‘love bug’ – cousin to the bedbug.

February is American Heart Month and a good time to spotlight one of the leading causes of heart failure worldwide – and one that is preventable through simple screenings.

Chagas disease, caused by the chagas bugs found in Central America and some areas of the U.S., can lie dormant in victims for decades, then manifest itself with devastating consequences.For the past eight years, Providence Health & Services has teamed with the Center of Excellence for Chagas Disease at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar to screen for chagas.

UCLA cardiologist Sheba Meymandi, M.D., program director, believes all migrants from Central America, from infants to age 60, should be screened for the disease, which is curable in its early stages.

“Complications of chagas are horrific,” Meymandi said. “We have a lot of patients who need heart transplants. But if you catch them before complications, you either cure them or slow the progression.”

Eight years ago, Providence adopted the prevention program as a community outreach project, providing volunteers who screen patients.

Last month, Providence contributed $20,000 to the program for outreach in the community as part of its ongoing financial support.

A recent screening coordinated by Providence volunteers resulted in blood samples from 100 people.

The disease is caused by the chagas bug, which bites humans then defecates. Scratching the bite can result in the feces entering the bloodstream, causing a disease victims unknowingly carry for decades. The sooner one discovers the disease, the better the chance of cure, or medication to prevent its escalation.

The parasite exists in our country, but living conditions and the likelihood the species behaves differently result in fewer cases of chagas disease.

This article is a news release provided by Providence Health & Services.

BedBugs reported in some of NYC’s swankiest hotels. They were always there; and it’s getting worse. More important to follow as BedBugs transmit deadly Chagas disease.

February 8, 2016 | by Leonard Greene | New York Daily News
It’s not just the fleabags and flophouses.

Bedbugs have been reported in some of the city’s swankiest hotels with a list that includes the Waldorf Astoria the Millennium Hilton and the New York Marriott Marquis.

According to the Bedbug Registry, a nationwide database of bedbug reports and complaints, bedbug sightings in New York hotels have jumped more than 44 percent between 2014 and 2015.

The Millenium Hilton at 55 Church Street in New York New York.
Google Maps Street View

The Millenium Hilton at 55 Church Street in New York New York.

The data focused on establishments that are members of the Hotel Association of New York City.

Of the 272 association members, 65 percent, or 176 members, have had a guest file at least one complaint about bedbugs at the property.

NR

Michelle Bennett/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image

Taxi cabs outside Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Eighteen hotels had a combined 363 complaints, representing 42 percent of all bedbug complaints.

“I stayed in room 2306 for one night,” a Millennium Hilton guest wrote in a complaint to the hotel in 2014. “I found blood on my sheets and a live bug on my bed. I ended up with 60 plus bites.”

At the Times Square Doubletree guest said a stay there last year left hundreds of bite marks on the face, neck arms and hands.

“Extreme case of bed bug attacked on my entire upper body,” the guest wrote.” Went home to Florida a day early and ended up in my local emergency room.”

Research Entomologist Jeffrey White shows off some bedbugs at a informational bedbug conference at 201 Mulberry Street in Manhattan Wednesday.

Warga, Craig/New York Daily News

Last month, a California couple posted a YouTube video about their $400-a-night Central Park hotel room nightmare. The couple found dozens of bedbugs beneath their mattress at the Astor on the Park Hotel.

Lisa Linden, a spokeswoman for the hotel association, said hotels in New York are addressing the issue.

“Bedbugs are a global issue that extend beyond hotels,” Linden said.

”Every member of the Hotel Association of NYC that we are aware of has an active anti-bedbug program in place. If a problem arises, it is dealt with immediately and effectively.”

Scientists who recently studied the bloodsucking creatures in the city’s subway system discovered a genetic diversity among bedbugs depending upon the neighborhood where they were found.

They said the discovery could lead to better insecticides.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Watch this BedBug go from flat to FAT

FYI – A 2014 Penn State Study confirms that Chagas CAN be transmitted by bed bugs and that bed bugs carry 40 other pathogens and MRSA.  ~A. Steiner~

February 8, 2016 | Christopher Terrell Nield | The Conversation
The bedbug problem is getting worse. Infestation horror stories have popped up in most major cities and a pest control team was even asked recently to exterminate bedbugs on an offshore oil rig.

We tend to associate bedbugs with dirty living conditions, but this is a myth – they don’t actually choose dirty homes over clean ones.  Unusually for many blood-sucking insects, bed bugs haven’t (yet) been implicated in spreading disease to the humans they bite, so that’s one small thing in their favour, though they are suspected of carrying organisms that cause leprosy, oriental sore and the bacterial brucellosis, and may be able to transmit Chagas disease.

After feasting on human blood the same bedbug goes from flat (00:25) to fat (3:25).

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES

Messing with BedBugs’ Genes Could Carry Other Risks?

Bed Bugs Will Outlive All Of Us Unless We Screw With Their Genes

011413everywhere.jpg

photo:  Bluejake/Sara Bibi/Gothamist

Bed bugs, like cockroaches and new seasons of The Bachelor, seem impossible to eradicate from the face of the Earth, no matter how many exterminators our landlords call to spray that one time and then never, ever again. But Science says there’s some small hope for the extinction of a moviegoer’s biggest fear—screwing with their genome.

Scientists have managed to map the genome of the common bed bug, revealing some fun things about the little suckers. For instance, bed bugs are actually able to break down toxins, like the ones an exterminator might use, to render them harmless, allowing them to survive even when you try to whack them with bug killer. They’ve also been MUTATING, producing genes that make them resistant to certain insecticides and making it all the more difficult to eradicate an infestation. Another fun fact is that bugs’ genes vary from location to location—a Brooklyn bed bug will have a different genetic sequence from a Queens bed bug, though both are equally disgusting.

Bed bugs also inbreed, and their sex is quite violent. This violent sex has been well-documented, and for those of you who have not yet seen Isabella Rossellini’s bed bug porno, you’re welcome, and sorry:

The takeaway here is that bed bugs have been able to hold us hostage for a long time, but scientists might be able to murder them, provided they make a few genetic tweaks. First, though, let’s kill all the mosquitoes.

[A. Steiner:  So…..Messing with Genes Could Carry Other Risks – YES!]

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Genome of BedBug shows close relationships to Kissing Bug, one of several vectors for deadly Chagas disease, and the body louse. Both have tight associations with humans.

February 2, 2016 | News from Weill Cornell Medical College

Researchers Sequence First Bedbug Genome.  Scientists have assembled the first complete genome of one of humanity’s oldest and least-loved companions: the bedbug. The new work, led by researchers at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine, and published Feb. 2 in Nature Communications, could help combat pesticide resistance in the unwelcome parasite. The data also provides a rich genetic resource for mapping bedbug activity in human hosts and in cities, including subways.

male and female bedbugs – both fed and unfed – comparison with apple seeds

“Bedbugs are one of New York City’s most iconic living fossils, along with cockroaches, meaning that their outward appearance has hardly changed throughout their long lineage,” said one of the paper’s corresponding authors Dr. George Amato, director of the museum’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics. “But despite their static look, we know that they continue to evolve, mostly in ways that make it harder for humans to dissociate with them. This work gives us the genetic basis to explore the bedbug’s basic biology and its adaptation to dense human environments.”

The common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) has been coupled with humans for thousands of years. This species is found in temperate regions and prefers to feed on human blood. In recent decades, the prevalence of heated homes and global air travel has accelerated infestations in urban areas, where bedbugs have constant access to blood meals and opportunities to migrate to new hosts. A resurgence in bedbug infestations since the late 1990s is largely associated with the evolution of the insects’ resistance to known pesticides, many of which are not suitable for indoor application.

“Bedbugs all but vanished from human lives in the 1940s because of the widespread use of DDT, but unfortunately, overuse contributed to resistance issues quite soon after that in bedbugs and other insect pests,” said Louis Sorkin, an author on the paper and a senior scientific assistant in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology. “Today, a very high percentage of bedbugs have genetic mutations that make them resistant to the insecticides that were commonly used to battle these urban pests. This makes the control of bedbugs extremely labor intensive.”

The researchers extracted DNA and RNA from preserved and living collections, including samples from a population that was first collected in 1973 and has been maintained by museum staff members since then. RNA was sampled from males and females representing each of the bug’s six life stages, before and after blood meals, in order to paint a full picture of the bedbug genome.

When compared with 20 other arthropod genomes, the genome of the common bedbug shows close relationships to the kissing bug (Rhodnius prolixus), one of several vectors for Chagas disease, and the body louse (Pediculus humanus), which both have tight associations with humans.

Click here to read complete article.

 

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Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

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Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety