Bedbug bill leads to eviction, Savannah woman says

May 21, 2019  by Martin Staunton

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A Savannah woman says a problem with bedbugs and maintenance issues led to her eviction.

The single mother & new grandmother is now looking for a new place to live over a dispute she lost in court with her landlord, Timberland Apartments.

39-year old Juanita Porter says she’s lived in Savannah her entire life, but this is the first time she’s been evicted.

“I’m humiliated,” she said, choking back tears. “It’s really breaking me and if I break, my whole family breaks, because I am all my kids have. And the thing that makes it so bad is I got to put my personal business on the news just to be heard.”

On her final day as a resident, Porter received some of her final guests — a pair of code compliance to investigate her complaints of shoddy maintenance, windows, wall cracks, and bedbugs.

Porter says she should have called long ago when a bad situation grew worse.

“When I moved in Timberland two years ago in A-12, I’d been having problems with mold, plumbing,” she explained, adding that she dealt with flooding and mold. “I’ve lost half of my belongings in A-12. So I got an emergency move in September 2018.”

Once she was moved into the new apartment, Porter said she discovered bedbugs were present.

“Last week of March, first week of April I saw bedbug activity. I was bitten up,” she said, adding, “When I reported it to the landlord, they sent the exterminator out, who confirmed it was bedbugs.”

Porter says there was a $750 fee attached to her rent payment for the bedbug treatment.

“I signed the promise to pay before I found out about the infestation. I was trying to do the right thing,” she said. “Never had a problem with rent. There were times they had to credit me because they were overcharging me from Section 8 and I had to go to my caseworker for her to clarify it.”

News 3 went to the leasing office to speak with someone to get answers. The current property manager at Timberland Apartments identified herself as Miss Sunny.

She declined an on-camera interview saying “no comment.” Miss Sunny cited tenant privacy issues as to why she could not talk to News 3 about Porter’s eviction.

Porter says this situation is taking a toll on two fronts.

“They’re not only retaliating, hurting me financially, they’re hurting me and my children emotionally,” she said, adding, “I lost everything and people know I work hard to get everything I had on my own…on my own and now we’re put out.”

Porter is now out of time to find a new home, but while it may be her first eviction, it’s not her first fight for something she believes is right.

“I fought my way through college. Four long years, for that special day to be taken away from me,” she said. “That’s not right and every time I go and talk to them they and they’re always making it like it’s my fault because I don’t know the codes, I don’t know what’s supposed to be what.  I don’t know what they can get away with.”

Porter says she did sign a promissory note to cover the eviction cost and that’s how the landlord won the case against her. She says she’s stepping forward to remind renters to be very mindful of all the language in the lease, or you could find yourself covering an expense you may not believe you’re responsible for.

Once the code compliance inspection is complete, Timberland Apartments will be notified of any violations found and given time to fix them.

 

Bedbugs may have sucked the blood of dinosaurs 100 million years ago as scientists discover they were alive twice as long ago as previously thought

  • They evolved 100 million years ago which is far earlier than previously thought
  • Making them 50 million years older than bats, once believed to be their first host
  • They feed on species with ‘homes’ such as nests, burrows and human beds 
  • So are unlikely to have sucked on dinosaurs although their first host is unknown 

Bed bugs scuttled the Earth 100 million years ago alongside the dinosaurs, scientists have found.

Previously thought to have evolved 50 million years ago, the latest study shows they are actually twice as old as bats, thought to be their first hosts.

While they could have fed on the dinosaurs, birds and burrowing animals were more likely hosts as they prefer animals with ‘homes’ like nests and burrows.

By understanding the tiny bugs better scientists hope to better control and prevent the transmission of insect-borne diseases.

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Bed bugs (pictured) scuttled the Earth 100 million years ago alongside the dinosaurs, scientists have found

Scientists from a number of institutions, including the University of Sheffield, compared the DNA of dozens of bedbug species to understand their evolution and their relationship with humans.

The findings revealed that Bedbugs evolved 50 million years before bats – a mammal that people had previously believed to be their first host.

Genetic evidence show that they have been parasitic companions with other species aside from humans for more than 100 million years, walking the earth at the same time as dinosaurs.

More research is needed to find out what their host was at that time, although current understanding suggests it’s unlikely they fed on the blood of dinosaurs.

This is because they usually attached to animals that have a ‘home’, such as a bird’s nest, an owl’s burrow, a bat’s roost or a human’s bed – a mode of living that dinosaurs don’t seem to have adopted.

Bedbugs may rank high among the list of most unwanted human bedfellows but until now, little was known about when they first originated.

The team, which includes University of Sheffield in the UK, spent 15 years collecting samples from wild sites and museums around the world, including African caves, cliffs and bird nests in Asia.

Based on the findings, experts found that the evolutionary history of bed bugs is far more complex than previously thought.

Professor Mike Siva-Jothy from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: ‘To think that the pests that live in our beds today evolved more than 100 million years ago and were walking the earth side by side with dinosaurs, was a revelation.

‘It shows that the evolutionary history of bed bugs is far more complex than we previously thought.’

Previously thought to have evolved 50 million years ago, the latest study shows they are actually twice as old as the bats, thought to be their first hosts.

HOW TO SPOT A BED BUG
Small dark dots are the key.

Experts say the buttons on a mattress are a popular hiding place If the infestation is bad, small white dots – which are bedbug eggs – may be visible.

A faint almond smell may also be noticeable

A pest controller will need to remove the bugs as household insecticides are not strong enough

Dr Steffen Roth from the University Museum Bergen in Norway, who led the study, added: ‘The first big surprise we found was that bedbugs are much older than bats, which everyone assumed to be their first host.

‘It was also unexpected to see that evolutionary older bedbugs were already specialised on a single host type, even though we don’t know what the host was at the time when T. rex walked the earth.’

The study also reveals that a new species of bedbug invades human environments about every half a million years.

When bedbugs changed hosts, they also didn’t always adapt to stay on that host but maintained the ability to jump back to their original host.

This demonstrates that while some bedbugs become specialised, some remain generalists, jumping from host to host.

Professor Klaus Reinhardt, a bedbug researcher from Dresden University in Germany, who co-led the study, said: ‘These species are the ones we can reasonably expect to be the next ones drinking our blood, and it may not even take half a million years, given that many more humans, livestock and pets that live on earth now provide lots more opportunities.’

The team also found that the two major bedbug pests of humans – the common and the tropical bedbug – are much older than humans.

This contrasts with other evidence that the evolution of ancient humans caused the split of other human parasites into new species.

Professor Mike Siva-Jothy from the University of Sheffield, added: ‘These findings will help us better understand how bedbugs evolved the traits that make them effective pests – that will also help us find new ways of controlling them.’

The researchers hope the findings will help create an evolutionary history of bed bugs, how they evolve to use different hosts and how they develop new traits.

The aim is to help control insects effectively and prevent the transmission of insect-vectored disease, say the scientists.

The research has been published in Current Biology.

WHAT ARE BED BUGS?
Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy but do not usually cause other health problems.

Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

HOW DO BED BUG INFESTATIONS HAPPEN?
Genetic tests have revealed that a single undetected pregnant bed bug is all it takes to start an entire infestation.

A DNA study at Sheffield University showed colonies of bed bugs come from a common ancestor or a few of the female bed bugs.

The pregnant bed bug could rapidly create a colony of thousands that feed on humans.

Bed bugs are capable of surviving without feeding for a month as they wait for a human.

In the late 1880s, an estimated 75 per cent of households were affected, but by the outbreak of World War II, that figure had dwindled to 25 per cent,

Their recent resurgence has been blamed by some experts on resistance to commonly used insecticides and international travel.

 

Bed Bugs Don’t Need Beds, or Humans, to Survive. They Never Did…

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The rise of bed bugs preceded modern humans by at least 100 million years. They survived the extinction that killed the dinosaurs. Could they outlive us all?

By Katherine J. Wu   May 16, 2019

Nova.jpgDon’t be fooled by their charming name: Bed bugs don’t need beds to set up shop. These intrepid insects will colonize pretty much any place where people pile up, including hotels, movie theaters, libraries, even the occasional subway—ready and waiting to ruin a human life with their bloodsucking mouthparts and death-defying durability.

It’s easy to dismiss bed bugs as loathsome pests that exist to make humans miserable. But in reality, bed bugs predate humans by leaps and bounds, making us the unwanted interlopers that first crossed into their turf.

According to a newly mapped bed bug family tree, these puny pests have been guzzling the blood of other animals for more than 100 million years, long before the rise of both modern humans and bats, their most common host. The research, published today in the journal Current Biology, shows that the bed bug timeline stretches further back than even the mass extinction that wiped out 75 percent of Earth’s plant and animal species, including all dinosaurs, 66 million years ago.

The surprising longevity of bed bugs means we’re no longer certain of the identity of these bloodthirsty buggers’ first host. But the study’s findings could still offer clues on how bed bugs once made the jump to humans, and if that transition will have an encore act in the future.

“Bed bugs didn’t evolve on humans,” says study author Michael Siva-Jothy, an entomologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. “We just happen to be their current host at the moment—which means they’re very good at what they do.”

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Bed bug bites are caused primarily by two species—Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus—which pierce human skin and drink blood with their sucking mouthparts. Luckily, neither is thought to transmit disease. Image Credit: smuay, iStock

The scourge of bed bugs on humankind is believed to stretch back to the very dawn of our species. But only three species—Cimex lectulariusCimex hemipterus, and, less commonly, Leptocimex boueti—routinely spend their nights supping on human blood. At least 100 other types of bed bugs exist worldwide, feeding mostly on bats and, to a lesser extent, birds, and researchers still don’t have a good understanding of these insects’ origins, and how species have split and diversified over time.

To generate a more complete bed bug catalog, an international team of scientists led by Klaus Reinhardt, a molecular and evolutionary biologist at the Dresden University of Technology in Germany, set out to amass insects from around the world.

A handful of specimens weren’t too hard to come by, arriving via the generosity of natural history museums, or scientific colleagues who had seen the team’s requests for help on Twitter. Collecting the lion’s share of the data, however, required some pretty gnarly field trips that featured amateur cliff scaling, treks through knee-deep guano, and hikes into remote mountaintop caves—all in search of nondescript insects just millimeters long.

In all, sample collection alone took the study’s 15 authors the better part of 15 years. But the result was an unprecedented collection of pristine bed bug DNA, representing 34 species hailing from 62 localities around the globe.

“It’s really difficult to collect these specimens,” says Christiane Weirauch, a systematic entomologist at the University of California, Riverside who was not involved in the study. “It’s just so cool that this team has pulled this together.”

By comparing DNA sequences across species, Reinhardt, Siva-Jothy, and their colleagues were able to trace the evolutionary relationships between the bed bugs they’d collected. The researchers then combined their data with evidence from known insect fossils to pinpoint when bed bug lineages had split in the past. And when the bed bug family tree was finally mapped, the team was met with a set of findings that flew in the face of almost everything they’d expected.

Because bats remain the most common host of bed bugs (technically, bat bugs) today, Siva-Jothy says, most researchers have assumed that the first bed bugs to scuttle the Earth also gorged on the blood of these winged mammals. Cozied up to cave-dwelling bats, bed bugs would’ve then had an easy time making the hop to our human ancestors seeking shelter some 2 million years ago, and evolved alongside the genus Homo ever since.

Neither of these theories panned out.

The researchers’ analysis now places the origin of bedbugs around 115 million years ago, during the Cretaceous—a whopping 30 to 50 million years before bats are believed to have come onto the scene. It’s not yet clear what species first drew the bed bug straw, but a good candidate might be a small, social, cave-dwelling mammal, Reinhardt says.

Others, however, aren’t ready to completely rule out bats, or at least an early bat-like ancestor. “The fossil records for [both bed bugs and mammals] are patchy…that makes it hard to make definitive statements,” says Jessica Ware, an entomologist and evolutionary biologist at Rutgers University who was not involved in the study. “It’s possible bats are older, and we’ve just underestimated.”

Some 70 more bed bug species have yet to be analyzed in this way, and the family tree could still change with the addition of new data, Ware says. “That being said, this is the first and maybe most comprehensive analysis people have done for [this group of insects].”

Regardless of where, and on whom, bed bugs got their start, it appears these insects were hardy enough to weather a mass extinction—and have remained alarmingly adaptable ever since. The researchers’ findings suggest that, throughout their evolutionary history, several bed bug species went from bothering bats to terrorizing birds and vice versa. Along the way, at least three species dipped their spindly legs into human stock. Surprisingly, all three species appear to have evolved independently, with each making a separate jump to human hosts.

In other words, we humans didn’t actually do much to shape the evolution of one of our most iconic pests, who were perfectly content binging on the blood of bats and birds. It just so happened that, when an unlucky member of the genus Homo stumbled onto their path, certain bed bugs were flexible enough to expand their palates.

Bat and bed bug - credit Mark Chappell, Univ Cailf, Riverside.jpg
Bats were once thought to be the first host of bed bugs. But a newly mapped family tree shows that bed bugs predate bats by 30 to 50 million years. Image Credit: Mark Chappell, University of California, Riverside

There’s even a chance another bed bug species might one day develop a taste for human blood, Reinhardt says (in fact, it might already be happening). Based on the historical data, these transitions happen roughly every half a million years.

But the more pressing concern might be the enemies we already know, Siva-Jothy says. “With human populations expanding, and our reliance on animals, and the way cities grow and communicate…there will be more opportunities for the species we’ve already got to become more widespread.”

Given the stubbornness of bed bug infestations, that’s not great news. It’s enough to make us wonder if bed bugs have the apocalyptic armor to outlive us all.

We might not have made our bed bugs. But we still have to lie with them.

Corpus Christi ISD fumigating bus after bed bug report

KRIS_WebHeader2018-Wade-Capps

May 15, 2019  Veronica Flores

We contacted CCISD Office of Communications Director Leanne Libby said on May 6, one bed bug was found on a student’s backpack at an elementary school. Libby said no additional bed bugs were found.

CCISDbedbug1.jpgIn a statement today, CCISD said.

“In addition to notifying the county health department, the district notified parents and staff in the classroom where the single bug was found. As a precautionary measure, one school bus as well as one classroom received pest-control treatment.”

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Woman warns about bed bug nightmare at Jacksonville motel

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May 14, 2019    Crystal Bailey
A Jacksonville woman says she stayed at the Motel 6 on Dunn Avenue last weekend and had to take her kids to the hospital for bed bug bites right after her stay.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville woman says she stayed at the Motel 6 on Dunn Avenue last weekend and had to take her kids to the hospital right after her stay.

Cearia Washington-Sanders said she found bed bugs had bitten them, causing infection.

“It was a horrific experience,” she said.

Washington-Sanders checked into the Motel 6 on Dunn Avenue because the air conditioning at her house was broken.

She took her kids to the hospital with bites all over their arms, legs, and chest.

“They were just bitten up in a lot of different places,” Washington-Sanders said.

Documents from St. Vincent’s Medical Center show the bed bug bites caused infection. She said she had to throw away the clothes they brought to avoid spreading.

“It makes me never want to stay in any hotel again,” she said.

How can you detect if the hotel you’re staying at has bed bugs?

Before you book your next vacation, check out the Florida Department of Health’s website where you can search all the prior complaints and inspections at a hotel.

The Motel 6 on Dunn Avenue had 5 complaints in 2018. Their last inspection was in December.

None of their violations include bed bugs.

Paperwork shows Motel 6 managers refunded Washington the money she spent on the room.

The general manager at Motel 6 told First Coast News everything was taken care of. She showed us paperwork that they had Terminix come by the hotel. The report from Terminix said no bed bugs were found in Washington-Sanders room. However, previous invoices with Terminix show they treated at least three other rooms with bed bugs since April.

“Check for the signs of bed bugs,” said Washington-Sanders.

Make sure you pull the covers back when you go into a hotel room and check for any moving brown dots. If you start to feel uncomfortably itchy, don’t stay there.

 

Bed Bug Infestation Sweeping Metro Denver

FOX31 – July 18, 2017, by Keagan Harsh

DENVER — Tourists are coming to Colorado in droves this summer, and it’s not just visitors of the two-legged kind.  Our state is seeing an infestation of bed bugs.

Christina Thomas experienced it first hand. Thomas was visiting an Extended Stay America in Colorado Springs and says she woke up to find bed bugs all over her pillow.


“I woke up and three inches from my face I see a spot, and I look at it and say ‘no way, is that a bed bug?'” she said.

Christina isn’t the only person dealing with bed bugs in Colorado.

Jacob Marsh is one of several Denver exterminators absolutely overwhelmed with bed bug calls.

“It’s infestation levels over the whole city pretty much,” he said. “Right now we’re working 6 or 7 days a week,” said Marsh.

He says this is the worst time of year for bed bugs. However, Colorado’s infestation actually began several years ago. He estimates more than 3,500 homes are treated for bed bugs in the Denver area every year.


It’s a problem Marsh attributes to both the state’s growing population and Colorado’s popularity as a tourist destination.

“Denver is usually ranked 4th to 6th worst in the nation. We get a lot of good things when things are booming like it is, but unfortunately when people are coming in and traveling you also get a lot of unwanted visitors,” he said.

If you’re staying at a hotel there are things you can do to try and keep the bugs away.

First, store your luggage away from the bed on luggage racks or even in the bathroom.


Also, check the sheets, mattress, and bed frame for signs of the bugs.

One of the biggest misconceptions about bed bugs is that they’re too small to see. Most are actually about the size of an apple seed, and similar in appearance.

As for Christine Thomas, she isn’t taking any chances. She checked out of the hotel and left.

‘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!

 

Leading cause of death in Men is caused by Chagas Disease & Heart failure 

Chagas Disease affects approximately 20 million worldwide, killing 50,000 each year, yet is practically unknown to most in the general public in the US.

If infected, you may not even know initially you have Chagas disease. It can slowly destroy your internal organs, and if you do not die from the acute stage, can cause death in the chronic stage, 10-20 years later.

Chagas is spreading worldwide — due to lack of knowledge and indifference.

Endemic in 21 countries, with 18-20 million infected and another 120 million people at risk

25% of the population of Latin America is at risk of acquiring Chagas Disease

More than 100,000 Latin American immigrants living in the United States are chronically infected and a potential source of transmission of the disease by means of blood transfusions

The disease is lethal, especially for children, and debilitates patients for years.

Previously thought to be endemic in Mexico, South and Latin America, other areas of the world such as the US and Europe are considering testing all blood donations for the parasite, T. cruzi, for the parasite that causes the disease due to travel patterns and rural migrations of populations to urban areas. 

 Chest radiograph of a Bolivian patient with chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infection, congestive heart failure, and rhythm disturbances. Pacemaker wires can be seen in the area of the left ventricle.

Infected triatomine bugs, that transmit T.cruzi, are found in North, Central and South America. Blood banks in selected cities of the continent vary between 3.0 and 53.0% -making the prevalence of T. cruzi infected blood higher than that of Hepatitis B, C, and HIV infection

In parts of South America, Chagas’ heart disease is the leading cause of death in men less than 45 years of age.

Blood transfusions in the US should be screened for antibodies to T.Cruzi; currently U.S. blood banks do not routinely conduct this screening.  

Numerous acute and chronic cases of the disease have been reported in domestic dogs in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia

It is not known how many dogs or humans in the US actually have the disease due to lack of testing and reporting

The disease may be transmitted by the bite of an infected triaomine, (reduviid, “kissing”, or “assassin”) bugs, or through blood transfusion or transplacentally

In Texas infection rates in kissing bugs are reported to be 17-48%, in other states infection rates may not be known due to lack of knowledge about the disease and inadequate studies with regards to sampling bugs for the disease

The kissing bugs, or carriers of this disease, could be as close as your backyard.

Posted in August 3, 2012 | by CHAGAS Disease Biology Blogspot

#SayNoToPesticides!

Did you know Chagas disease IS fatal for most dogs? Animal Planet’s Pitbulls and Parolees gets Help when Kizzy is diagnosed with Chagas disease.

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Kizzy was Pit Bulls and Parolees rescue – diagnosed with deadly Chagas disease.

February 2, 2016 | by Nesa Nourmohammadi | Animal Planet

Kizzy was the first dog at Villalobos to be diagnosed with Chagas disease.
Saturday’s heartbreaking episode of Pit Bulls and Parolees showed us the devastating effects of Chagas disease. What originated in Latin America through the “kissing bug” has found its way into parts of the United States and the Villalobos Rescue Center dogs in Assumption Parish felt it first hand. While Kizzy wasn’t so lucky, Leo was fortunate enough to find a treatment that improved his quality of life, thanks to Dr. Kristen Kulinksi and her staff at Cypress Lake Animal Hospital.

We were lucky enough to get some time with Dr. Kristen to learn more about Chagas disease. Take a look at our Q&A with her.

Q: What is Chagas’ disease?

A: Chagas’ disease, also known as American Trypanosomiasis, is a parasitic disease caused by infection with the protozoa, Trypanosoma cruzi. This protozoal parasite lives inside the Triatoma (reduviid) bug, also know as the “kissing bug” or the “assassin bug”. The infective form of the parasite is passed in the feces of the bug. Not all kissing bugs are infected with the protozoa parasite. In Texas, it has been reported that about 50% of the kissing bugs carry the disease.

Q: How is Chagas’ disease transmitted in dogs?

A: T. Cruzi, is passed in the feces of the kissing bug, and is not transmitted through their blood sucking bite. The infected feces can enter the body through open wounds, scratches, or even the initial bite of the kissing bug. Dogs can also be infected by eating the bug, or food contaminated with the kissing bug’s infected feces. Chagas’ can also be transmitted by blood transfusions, through the placenta from an infected mother to the feti, or by handling tissue that is contaminated with the disease.

Q:  Is the Kissing Bug the only vector for the disease?

A:  Yes, there are many different Triatoma species throughout the Americas, although they are all considered “kissing bugs”. Different species may have different behaviors that make infection more or less likely. Some of the bugs in South America defecate as soon as they feed, which places the infected feces directly near the open bite wound.

Q:  Where is it common? in what countries?

A:  Chagas’ disease has been found in North, Central, and South America where the reduviid bugs live. T. Cruzi can not exist without the kissing bug as the vector. It is considered endemic in South America and Mexico in humans. Recently we have been seeing a increase in canine cases in some of the southern United States as the disease travels north through Mexico (Texas, Louisiana, and California are among the states with confirmed cases).

Q:  Who can get Chagas’ disease?

A:  Many mammals can be infected by T. Cruzi, including, but not limited to; humans, rats, dogs, raccoons, skunks.  Opossums and armadillos have also been reported to carry the disease. Wildlife can serve as an important reservoir for the disease.

Q:  Why is Chagas’ disease a problem in dogs?

A:  The initial infection with Trypanosoma Cruzi, can cause vague or even no clinical signs.  Fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and anorexia (lack of appetite) are a few of the vague symptoms seen in the acute phase.  There is also a latent phase that may last for years, where the protozoa is present in the body, but does not cause any signs of disease. The chronic infection of Chagas’ disease can cause heart disease by damaging the heart muscle and ultimately causing a heart arrhythmia and heart failure. Sudden death due to a heart arrhythmia is sometimes the only sign of the disease. To make it even more confusing, some dogs that are infected will never develop signs of the disease.

Q:  Who is at risk?

A:   Dogs that live outside and in wooded areas in sections of the country that have the kissing bug are most at risk.  People and animals who travel to areas that are endemic for the disease also are at higher risk.

Q:  Do you see Chagas’ disease often in your clinic? Is it common or rare?

A: Now that we are looking and testing more for Chagas’, we see around 2 to 3  positive cases a month.  Before I graduated from vet school, 10 years ago, I was taught that I may diagnose 1 case in my professional lifetime.  So although Chagas’ is not as common as heartworm disease in our practice (which we diagnose daily), it is definitely something I test and look for in certain cases.

Q: Is there a treatment for Chagas’?

A: There is no published proven “cure” for Chagas’ disease. There are some anti-protozoal treatments that have been used in humans, but are difficult to acquire and have had limited success in dogs. Treatment has been aimed at treating the symptoms of the disease, such as the heart failure.  Fortunately through research, there have been some experimental treatments which are promising.  I have had three canine cases so far that have proven this treatment to be successful.  This research will soon be published and available by the researcher that has discovered it.

Q: How does I know if my dog has Chagas’?

A: Testing for Chagas’ disease in dogs can be done by having your veterinarian submit a blood sample to a specialized lab for further analysis. PCR (VRL lab) and IFA Antibody tests (Texas A&M Veterinary Diagnostic Lab) are both available only through your veterinarian.

Q:  How do I prevent the disease?

A:  There is no medicine or vaccine that can prevent the disease. Prevention is more aimed at decreasing the exposure of animals and humans to the kissing bug that harbors the disease.  These bugs live in wooded areas, and are attracted to light at night.  Keeping dogs inside at night and away from wooded areas, where the bug may be hiding, can help limit exposure to the disease.  Certain insecticides can be used to treat areas that may serve as a habitat for the kissing bug.

Q: What about humans?

A:  Transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi from dog to human has NOT been reported. Although the presence of the disease in dogs, could show that the disease is present in that region, and may indicate that humans may also be exposed.

Q:  Anything else about the disease?

A:  I don’t want everyone all throughout the country to worry that their dog has Chagas’ disease. Right now the disease is emerging into the United States, but it is still a rare disease in most parts of the country.  I do see a lot of stray and rescue animals at my practice, and these dogs are more likely to have been exposed to the kissing bug through their prior living conditions.  These animals are at higher risk, which is why I have more positive cases in my hospital.

My personal goal is to have veterinarians in certain areas of the country to now have Chagas’ disease as a possible differential diagnosis for certain patients. Earlier detection of the disease will also help improve the outcome for the patient because once the heart has been damaged, the effects are permanent.  Hopefully this experimental treatment protocol will continue to be successful and this disease will not always equal a death sentence every time it is diagnosed.

My desire to help patients with this disease comes from the loss of two young dogs that were owned and loved by my personal friends. Through the frustration of losing these pets, I have learned more about this emerging disease, and now have successfully treated new patients.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to acknowledge?

A: I would also like to thank Dr. Roy Madigan of The Animal Hospital of Smithson Valley in Spring Branch, Texas for his help and for sharing his knowledge of this disease.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Dr. Oz “#Chagas is not curable and will likely kill you by means of a ‘not so’ pleasant death.”

Could You Have a Deadly Parasite and Not Even Know it?  Have you heard of the kissing bug, aka ‘love bug’?

Originally aired on 1/25/2016 | The Dr. Oz Show

Have you heard of the kissing bug? Evolutionary biologist Dan Riskin explains how this parasite got its name and how you can get Chagas disease from it. Then, Dr. Oz shares how to recognize the symptoms of a parasitic infection.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

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