How Do Bed Bugs Travel from Room to Room -Keep Them Out

Curious how do bed bugs travel from room to room? It’s important to take preventive measures, because of how quickly they can spread in your home.

How Do Bed Bugs Travel from Room to RoomHow Do Bed Bugs Travel from Room to Room

(Newswire.net — July 17, 2019) — Bed bugs can be a real nuisance when they invade your home. A bedbug infestation often means you’ll struggle to sleep in peace because they like to feed on blood by sucking through your skin when you’re asleep. Have you ever wondered how do bed bugs travel from room to room? They spread fast and also breed at a high rate. Before taking any pest control measures, it’s important to understand how they migrate, so you can have a better idea of how to eliminate them.

How Do Bed Bugs Travel from Room to Room

Just like you want to know the signs of a rat infestation and how to eliminate them, it’s the same when it comes to bed bugs. Bed bugs can spread rather quickly, so it’s important to be prepared so you can eliminate the bed bugs before they spread too much. Below are various ways bed bugs can travel to your home and spread to multiple rooms.

Through Breeding

Bedbugs mature fast and the females can lay eggs at a rate of four to seven eggs daily. The eggs are laid in dark places and will usually stick on any hard surfaces such as wood. This makes them spread fast, especially if the eggs are laid on furniture and you move to a different place. Female bed bugs can lay a total of 200 eggs, especially in dark, isolated spaces. The eggs will usually hatch within a week or two.

Through the Movement of Infested Items

Bed bugs live in furniture, beds, bedding or clothing. If you move any of these infested items, then it can carry the bugs, and they’ll continue breeding in the new room or place where the furniture was moved to if the conditions are favorable.

Crawling

Bed bugs are very good at crawling. They can crawl very fast when it’s dark. For instance, if you feel some bites while you’re asleep and decide to turn on the lights, the chances are you won’t even find one as they travel fast to their hiding places. If you live in an apartment, bed bugs can spread to every home through cracks. They’re also resilient to many pesticides and should you decide to spray an infested home, they simply move to the next room or home.

Movement of People

Whenever people put on clothes that are infested by bed bugs, they move them to other places where they land. For instance, one can collect bugs from one room to another or from a friend’s house to their home. These pests can also spread through traveling with infested packaging boxes and suitcases when one is moving from one residence to another.

Resilience and Resistance

Bed bugs are extremely adaptive and resilient. They can survive for up to seventy days without feeding and can live for several months if well fed. They’re also very sensitive and search for their prey by sensing heat from the human body and carbon dioxide from the mouth. When feeding, they pierce the human body through the skin and spit some saliva that contains chemicals that make you insensitive until they have finished.

Bottom Line

It goes without saying that bed bugs spread fast and their ability to hide in dark spaces encourages their spread. A single infestation can turn into a full-blown infestation in no time, which is why it’s important to keep them awayfrom your home. Once you have an answer to the question: how do bed bugs travel from room to room, you can take necessary precautions and measures.

‘Kissing bug’ case in Delaware raises alarm for summer

(CNN) April 25, 2019 | Jacqueline Howard and Nadia Kounang

A bloodsucking “kissing bug” bit a Delaware girl on the face last summer while she was watching television. Now, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling the incident the first confirmed identification of the bug in the state.

Triatoma sanguisuga, often called the “kissing bug” because it usually bites around the eyes and mouth, can transmit a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi. The parasite causes Chagas disease, which can have serious cardiac and gastrointestinal complications.
When the girl was bitten, her family contacted the Delaware Division of Public Health and the Delaware Department of Agriculture for help in identifying the creature. They were concerned about possible disease transmission from the insect, according to a CDC report Thursday.
“The girl who was bitten had no ill effects,” the report said, and although the bug’s presence was confirmed in Delaware at the time, there is no current evidence of Trypanosoma cruzi in the state.
Yet the case raises new concern about how many additional kissing bug bites might occur this summer across the nation — and what that means for public health.
Although the risk of Trypanosoma cruzi transmitted by kissing bugs is minimal, most of the kissing bugs in the United States are potential disease vectors, and parasite transmission could increase because of climate change, according to a paper in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2012.
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Chagas is endemic to Latin America, where a different species of the bug lives and can find its way into rural households.

“They might have thatched roof or poorly insulated walls, and the bugs set up shop and feed on animals and people at home,” Sarah Hamer, now an associate professor of epidemiology at Texas A&M University’s Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical School, said in 2015.
Yet the bugs exist here in the United States, too.
Hamer said the kissing bug and Chagas have long been our neighbors: “The earliest reports are from the 1800s. The first parasites have been reported since the 1940s. We’re just diagnosing more disease. We’re paying attention to it now.”

 
The CDC estimates that there are 300,000 people living with Chagas in the United States, but most cases are contracted in other countries.

Only a few cases of Chagas disease from contact with the bugs have been documented in this country, and kissing bugs have been reported in 28 states, mostly in the southern half of the nation, according to the CDC. The bugs in the United States are most likely to be found outside.
To prevent infestation, the CDC recommends that you:
  • Seal cracks and gaps around windows, walls, roofs and doors
  • Remove wood, brush and rock piles near your house
  • Use screens on doors and windows and repair any holes or tears
  • Seal holes and cracks leading to the attic, to crawl spaces below the house and to the outside
  • Have pets sleep indoors, especially at night
  • Keep your house and any outdoor pet resting areas clean, in addition to periodically checking both areas for the presence of bugs
If you suspect that you’ve found a kissing bug, the CDC says not to squash it. Instead, place it in a container and fill with rubbing alcohol or freeze in water, and take it to your local health department.

BITEMARE: East Texas Mother claims hotel was infested with Bed Bugs

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GRAND SALINE, TX | July 1, 2019 | by Mye Owens

You know the saying, “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Well, it’s not just a nursery rhyme. Experts say bed bugs are common during this time of year and can ruin a good nights sleep.

If you’re planning a family getaway for the summer, it’s important to be aware of unwanted guests that may be waiting for you when resting away from home. Just ask Tiffany Thompson.

“The first night he had bites just up here, and I thought it was just mosquito bites,” explains Thompson, as she points out red marks on her son.

Thompson and her 1 year old son Aiden were spending the night at a hotel in Grand Saline, when the unthinkable happened.

“Just the second night, he woke up. Covered, his face, his arms,” continues Thompson.

Trying to find the cause of these bites, she pulled back the sheets, and couldn’t believe what she saw.

“I didn’t know at first, but I checked the bed, I checked around it. There were bed bugs everywhere. I didn’t even think that there would be bed bugs like that.” describes Thompson.

When she took her son to the hospital, she says doctors couldn’t count the number of bites on his body.

Bed Bug bites are more common then not.

Research shows 1 out of 5 Americans have either been bitten by a bed bug, or knows someone who has.

Experts say a good way to check if bed bugs are in your home is to flip over the covers, and check in between the mattress seams, because that’s where the insects love to hide.

“Usually it’s red, itchy, and kind of almost either in a linear pattern where they’re crawling up your skin, or a zigzag pattern where they’re going back and forth,” explains Dr. Matt Young, who often treat bed bug bites.

Doctors say the best way to treat a bite is to not scratch, and be aware if you start having more symptoms.

“If you’re having an allergic reaction, they start getting welts, and start getting itchy and then you may have shortness of breath that’s a 911 emergency,” says Dr. Young.

Because a trip to the hospital like Aiden had, could be just one bite away.

How to prevent Bed Bugs:

*Below are tips provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Check all second hand furniture for any signs of insects before bringing it home
  • Use a protective cover over your mattress and box springs
  • Reducing clutter in your home, reduces the number of places the bugs can hide
  • Vacuum on a regular basis
  • Be vigilant if you are sharing laundry facilities

 

EWG Calls on CDC To Monitor US Population for Monsanto’s Weedkiller Glyphosate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2019  by  Alex Formuzis

WASHINGTON – Glyphosate, the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S., should be added to the list of toxic chemicals the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly measures in the bodies of the American people, Environmental Working Group said in a letter sent today to the CDC.

A growing body of research has found that Americans, including children, are exposed to glyphosate through food sprayed with the weedkiller, and from air and water because of the widespread presence of glyphosate in the environment.

A University of California biomonitoring study of more than 1,000 older adults in Southern California found that at least 70 percent had detectable traces of glyphosate in their bodies between 2014 and 2017. That compared to just 12 percent of participants tested between 1993 and 1996, EWG said in the letter to CDC.

The dramatic increase in exposure among the participants in the California study aligns with the growing amount of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup – sprayed on cropland since the mid-1990s. More than 250 million pounds were sprayed in 2016.

Most glyphosate used in agriculture is applied on Roundup-ready corn and on soybeans genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. Increasingly, however, glyphosate is used on non-GMO wheat, barley, oats and beans. The herbicide kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner. EWG has conducted three rounds of tests of popular oat-based cereals and snack foods marketed toward kids, and found glyphosate in nearly every sample of food.

recent review of 19 studies of the evidence of human exposure to glyphosate globally, led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, highlighted the limitations of currently available data and concluded that additional studies are urgently needed.

In the letter, EWG urged the CDC to address the lack of nationwide biomonitoring studies of glyphosate, especially exposure of young children. “The EPA’s dietary risk assessments indicate that children one to two years old likely have the highest exposure levels, comparable with EPA estimates of exposure in occupational settings – and yet real-life data on infants’ and children’s exposure to glyphosate are missing,” EWG wrote.

Some of the most recent scientific research suggests that glyphosate exposure during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus as well as the health of newborns and young children.

In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to people. In 2017, the herbicide was listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer.

“A national biomonitoring effort will give epidemiologists the opportunity to study the health effects associated with glyphosate exposure,” wrote Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG, and Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., an EWG toxicologist.

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More Than 100,000 Americans Urge EPA To Restrict Unnecessary Use of Monsanto’s Weedkiller on Oats

EWG
WASHINGTON – JUNE 7, 2019 – By Alex Formuzis alex@ewg.org

This week, more than 100,000 Americans officially joined EWG and 20 companies calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly restrict the use of Monsanto’s weedkiller glyphosate on oats as a pre-harvest drying agent.

A coalition of companies and public interest groups, led by EWG and Megafood, gathered 104,952 signatures on online petitions to the EPA, urging the agency to lower the tolerance limit of glyphosate in oats and prohibit its pre-harvest use.  The names of those who signed the petitions were submitted to EPA on Wednesday.

The EPA’s legal limit for glyphosate residues on oats is 30 parts per million, or ppm. The petition, first filed last September, asks the agency to set a more protective standard of 0.1 ppm, which was the legal limit in 1993.

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“Administrator Andrew Wheeler and the EPA could quickly remove one of the more concerning routes of dietary exposure to glyphosate for children by restricting the unnecessary use of glyphosate on oats,” said EWG Legislative Director Colin O’Neil. “Americans are demanding the agency act to protect the public and the food supply from being contaminated with this toxic weedkiller linked to cancer.”

“It’s hard to find 100,000 people who agree on anything,” O’Neil said. “But when it comes to feeding themselves and their families, they agree that we should not have to worry whether eating healthy, oat-based foods for breakfast could come with a dose of glyphosate.”

The petition was amended this week and submitted to the EPA docket to include additional companies that have signed on since last year.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer-Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most widely used pesticide in the world. It is largely used as a weedkiller on genetically modified corn and soybeans. But it is increasingly being used for crop management and applied pre-harvest to a number of non-genetically engineered crops, including oats.

Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner than if the plant were allowed to die naturally. This is very likely one of the leading sources of dietary exposure for people who consume foods made with oat-based foods, like cereal and oatmeal.

Two rounds of laboratory tests commissioned by EWG found glyphosate in nearly every sample of oat-based cereal and other breakfast products at levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective for children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.

On June 12, EWG will release results of its latest tests, which will include additional oat-based cereals and other foods that were not analyzed for glyphosate in the two earlier rounds.

2017 study by a team of California scientists estimate that between 2014 and 2016, at least 70 percent of American adults surveyed had detectable levels of the cancer-causing weedkiller in their bodies. That compares to 12 percent in American adults between 1993 and 1996, just before the use of glyphosate started to surge with the advent of GMO crops designed to withstand direct application of the chemical.

In 2015, 17 of the world’s top cancer researchers convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed hundreds of studies on glyphosate and voted unanimously to classify the weedkiller as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In 2017, California added glyphosate to its official list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

These companies are cosigners of the petition to the EPA: MegaFood, Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farm, MOM’s Organic Market, Nature’s Path, One Degree Organic Foods, National Co+op Grocers, Happy Family Organics, Amy’s Kitchen, Clif Bar & Company, Earth’s Best Organic, GrandyOats, INFRA, KIND Healthy Snacks, Lundberg Family Farms, Organic Valley, Patagonia Provisions, PCC Community Markets, Foodstirs and Kamut International, Ltd.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Bed bug infestations are only getting worse — here’s why they’re so hard to kill

  • Bed bugs can stow away on your clothes, bags, and mattresses, infest your home, and lay thousands of eggs in the process.
  • They feed on human blood and swell to twice their body weight.
  • Despite our best efforts, bed bugs are hard to kill and infestations are only getting worse.
  • Part of the problem is that bed bugs are developing resistance to pesticides, and experts worry we’re running out of options.

The children were right. A gruesome creature lurks under your bed. And yes, it wants to suck your blood…swelling to twice its size in the process.

Its name? Cimex lectularius — aka the common bed bug.

Turns out these creatures have tormented humans for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians, for example, used spells to try and fight the insect hordes. But to no avail. And while our weapons have come a long way since spell casting … we’re struggling more than ever to fend off these pesky pests.

In the 20th century, humans developed a new weapon against the bed bug. Toxic chemicals. Pesticides like DDT nearly wiped out entire populations in most Western countries. But even that wasn’t enough. By the turn of the millennium, bed bug populations resurged worldwide. And this time, they had new weapons against us. Like 15% thicker skin — to better protect against harmful pesticides. And enzymes called esterases and oxidizes. Which break down common insecticides, making them useless. In fact, researchers worry we’re running out of effective insecticides!

If that’s not terrifying enough, consider this: Just a few bed bugs can quickly turn into a dangerous infestation. Let’s say a single female spots you in the local movie theater … and hitches a ride home on your clothes. Here’s the problem: She’s pregnant. And will lay hundreds of eggs. Within just a few months, that lonesome bed bug can turn into thousands.

But most victims won’t even notice until it’s too late. Since their flat, plate-like bodies let bed bugs vanish into impossibly tight nooks and crannies. So it’s no wonder infestations are out of control! From 2004 to 2009, the New York City council reported a 2,000% increase in bedbug complaints! And although they don’t transmit disease, bed bug bites are bad news.

In one case, a 60-year-old man needed to be hospitalized for blood loss. Bed bugs can also trigger itchy rashes, which can cause skin infections at best … and deadly allergic reactions at worse. The good news is you CAN rid your home of these pests. Experts recommend hiring professional exterminators to heat your home to extreme temperatures.

The bad news? You’ll have to shell out $800 to $1,200 a pop to clear your apartment.

So until we discover a safe but cheaper way to take out every last one…it won’t be so easy to sleep tight and not let the bed bugs bite.

by Gina Echevarria and Shira Polan  Dec. 28, 2018

New Survey Shows Americans Taking Action Against Bed Bugs

National Pest Management Association Urges Continued Vigilance During Bed Bug Awareness Week

FAIRFAX, Va. (April 16, 2014) – A majority of Americans have begun taking precautions against the spread of bed bugs, according to the 2014 Bed Bug Awareness Week survey conducted online in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) in March 2014 among over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+. The survey, which found nearly three in five (59%) Americans take some kind of precaution against bed bugs, is being released in conjunction with Bed Bug Awareness Week (April 20-26), a national observance to help spread awareness about bed bugs and what people can do to curb infestations.

Bed bugs are known for their hitchhiking capabilities and are easily transported, making them an elusive pest and formidable opponent. In fact, bed bugs are considered one of the most difficult pests to control by professionals, due in part to their quick breeding capabilities and tendency to hide in small, dark crevices, often unseen by the human eye, such as behind headboards and baseboards, as well as inside electrical outlets and box springs. Depending on the scope of an infestation, it can take several treatments to fully eradicate the bugs.

Industry experts agree that public awareness is key in quelling infestations. “Education and vigilance are the first steps to help stop the spread of bed bugs, and we’re pleased and encouraged to hear that so many Americans are becoming more aware of their surroundings and taking measures to protect against this troublesome pest,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “We hope the public will use Bed Bug Awareness Week as an opportunity to brush up on prevention techniques—especially as we head into the busy summer travel season.”

Below are highlights from the survey:

59 percent of all U.S. adults take some kind of precaution against bed bug infestations.
34 percent inspect sheets, mattress pads and mattresses for signs of bed bugs upon checking into a hotel
33 percent wash all clothes in hot water after returning home from a vacation
29 percent avoid visiting homes or locations that have had a bed bug infestation
28 percent remain vigilant of where they place their belongings when in public places
12 percent vacuum suitcases after returning home from vacation
8 percent keep their suitcases in a plastic trash bag or protective cover for the duration of their hotel stays
If they suspected a bed bug infestation in their home, 95 percent of U.S. adults would do something to alleviate the problem.
69 percent would wash their sheets and bedding in hot water
64 percent would clean and vacuum their bedrooms
62 percent would contact a pest professional/exterminator
40 percent would buy an over-the-counter bed bug removal product
30 percent would throw away their mattress and purchase a new one
More information, including bed bug biology, prevention tips and best practices can be found on AllThingsBedBugs.org.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information, visit PestWorld.org.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Pest Management Association from March 11-13, 2014 among 2,037 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Pest Control Advice When Buying a New Home
When purchasing a home, certain steps must be taken to ensure things go smoothly. Aside from any cosmetic updates, it’s important to also account for any problems that may not be visible to the naked eye. That’s why a new home pest inspection is so important.

Copyright ©2019 National Pest Management Association

Family claims Jacksonville day care has bedbugs, DCF investigating

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – June 4, 2019

A local father says a local day care kicked his son out of school after he and his wife complained that the center had bedbugs.

“It’s been several times that he came home with bug bites,” said Jacksonville father Ian Williams.

Williams tells Action News Jax Ryan Nelson his son came home with bites several times since January from the Saint Stephen Child Care and Learning Center.

But on May 30, he says his wife found one of the bedbugs crawling on their son at the facility.

Action News Jax obtained letters from the center to the Williams family, which show it did not believe there was an infestation.

However, it immediately removed kids from the classroom and used a bug fogger.

In another letter, the day care ended its relationship with the family citing respect issues, and violations of its rules.

The Williams family has a different interpretation of that letter.

“Pretty much their position was, ‘We’d rather sweep it under the rug and keep it quiet than to actually address the problem,’” said Williams.

Nelson went to the day care asking if there was anything they could like to say. A manager told Nelson it was under investigation, before asking him to leave.

We looked through DCF records, and found records of more than a dozen inspections in the past three years.

While there were other noncompliance issues found, none of them dealt with bugs or cleanliness issues.

“When a kid comes home and complain about getting bit by bugs, and we actually go pick him up, and there’s bugs actually crawling on him, you know, any parent is going to have a concern about that,” said Williams.

The family said it was under DCF investigation. DCF confirms it is looking into the matter.

Warning signs of a bed bug infestation

bedset_bedbugs.jpgLongview News-Journal May 11, 2019  kgentsch

When traveling overnight, travelers may have their minds on any number of things. Vacationers may be focused on fun in the sun, while the minds of business travelers may be preoccupied with important meetings. Few travelers may be thinking about bed bugs, even though hotels can be vulnerable to infestations of these unwelcome creatures.

Bed bugs might be considered a pesky nuisance, but such a reputation overlooks their potential to cause serious harm. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs can cause allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. The Mayo Clinic notes that anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that causes the immune system to release a flood of chemicals, potentially resulting in shock. During such reactions, blood pressure can drop suddenly and the airways can narrow, compromising a person’s ability to breathe.

Bed bug infestations also can contribute to skin infections resulting from bites. Such infections may include impetigo, ecthyma and an infection of the lymph vessels known as lymphangitis. The presence of lymphangitis may indicate that a skin condition is worsening, potentially causing bacteria to spread into the blood and putting people’s lives in jeopardy.

Bed bugs can infest hotels and other public places, including movie theaters. But they also can occur at home. Learning to recognize when bed bugs are present can help people avoid the uncomfortable and potentially unhealthy consequences of infestations.

Red, itchy bites:  Flat, red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters are indicative of bed bugs on humans. Bites, which may be left in straight rows as well, are often irritating, prompting many people to scratch them, which can lead to infection. Arms and shoulders, which many people tend to leave exposed while they sleep, are common areas for bed bugs to appear.

Discomfort sleeping: Bed bugs can be found in places other than beds, but they’re most often found in bed. Some people first suspect bed bug infestations after some restless nights of sleep.

Odor: Bed bugs might be tiny, but that does not mean they don’t smell. Bed bugs release chemical substances known as pheromones. When released in large amounts, these pheromones can produce an odor reminiscent of a dirty locker room.

Stains on bedding: You might need a magnifying glass and/or flashlight to see the stains left by bed bugs, which tend to be rust-colored, reddish-brown or small and brown. These stains will appear after bugs have fed on humans and are typically seen near the corner or edges of the bed.

Bed bug infestations can be uncomfortable and alarming. Learning to recognize signs of such infestations can help people evict these unwanted visitors from their homes.

‘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.”

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