‘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!

 

Deadly CHAGAS: An Emerging Infectious Disease Threat In U.S.

October 1, 2015 | by Judy Stone | Forbes

Chagas, a parasitic disease, is the latest invisible killer infection to be recognized as a growing threat here. The infection is transmitted by the Triatomine bug, known as the “kissing” bug. The bugs infect people through bites—often near the eyes or mouth—or when their infected feces are accidentally rubbed into eyes or mucous membranes. Some transmission occurs from mother to child during pregnancy. Occasionally, transmission is through contaminated food or drink.   Triatoma sanguisuga – CDC/James Gathany

Most people in the U.S. with Chagas disease probably became infected as children, living in Latin America. The infection often has few symptoms early on, but after several decades, strikes fatally, often with sudden death from heart disease. I suspect that, similar to Lyme disease, the magnitude of disease and deaths from the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease, is unrecognized in the U.S.

 2014 map of blood donors testing positive for CHAGAS disease. 

In Latin America, however, up to 12 million people might be infected, with a third going on to develop life-threatening heart complications. Chagas is a major cause of congestive heart failure and cardiac deaths, with an estimated 11,000 people dying annually, according to the WHO.

There are an estimated 300,167 people with Trypanosoma cruzi infection the U.S., including 40,000 pregnant women in North America. There are 30,000-45,000 cardiomyopathy cases and 63-315 congenital infections each year. Most of the people come from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, or Argentina; Bolivia has the highest rate of Chagas in the world.

But in the U.S., we don’t often think of Chagas. Even as an infectious disease physician, I’ve never treated anyone with it, and it is not on my radar. So when a physician sees a patient who may have come to the U.S. as a child, and now has diabetes and hypertension, he or she is likely to attribute the heart disease to that and not look for infection. In fact, though, there are large pockets of undiagnosed disease. For example, a survey in Los Angeles of patients with a new diagnosis of cardiomyopathy who had lived in Latin America for at least a year, found 19% had Chagas disease, and they had a worse prognosis than those without the infection.

There are other reasons Chagas is overlooked. One is that Chagas is not a reportable disease except in four states, and Texas only began reporting in 2010. Most cases here have been detected by screening of blood donations, which has found about 1 in every 27,500 donors to be infected, according to CDC. However, a 2014 survey showed “one in every 6,500 blood donors tested positive for exposure to the parasite that causes Chagas disease.” A map of positive donations is here. While the triatome bugs are most common in the southern half of the U.S., they are actually quite widespread, as shown here.
Much bigger barriers to diagnosis are social and cultural. Many patients lack health insurance. Others are undocumented immigrants fearing deportation. Health literacy and language barriers are huge. There is a stigma associated with the diagnosis, as there is for many patients with TB, as Chagas is associated with poverty and poor living conditions. As Daisy Hernández noted in her excellent story in the Atlantic, “it’s hard, if not impossible, for moms with Chagas and no health insurance to see the doctors who would connect them to the CDC” and “patients don’t necessarily have savings in case they have adverse reactions to the medication and can’t work.”

There are pockets of Chagas in the states, including Los Angeles, the Washington metropolitan area, and the Texas border, where there are large immigrant communities from endemic areas. But I suspect that with climate change, we’ll see more Chagas in the southwest U.S., as more triatomine bugs are found further north. One recent study found more than 60% of the collected bugs carried the Trypanosome parasite, up from 40-50% in two similar studies. There are also now seven reports of Chagas infection that are clearly autochthonous, or locally acquired. University of Pennsylvania researcher Michael Levy has shown that bedbugs might be capable of transmitting Chagas, but no one has shown that they actually do. Entomologist and Wired author Gwen Pearson nicely explains why bedbugs are an unlikely vector and notes that you “far more likely to be injured by misusing pesticides to try to exterminate” them.

There’s more bad news. Treatment for Chagas is effective if given early in infection, although with significant side effects. There is no effective treatment for late stages of gastrointestinal or cardiac disease. A newly released study showed that benznidazole was no more effective than placebo in reducing cardiac complications, even though it reduced levels of parasites in the blood.

   Trypanasoma cruzi parasite in heart tissue – CDC

The two drugs available to treat Chagas, benznidazole and nifurtimox, are not yet FDA approved and are only available through the CDC under investigational protocols. Both carry significant side effects. Treatment of children with early Chagas is generally effective but, as with many drugs, treatment is hampered by lack of data on pediatric dosing and limited formulations. There is little research funding for new drug development, with less than US $1 million (0.04% of R&D funding dedicated to neglected diseases) focused on new drugs for Chagas disease, according to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi).

Where do we go from here? The most immediate and cost-effective proposals are to increase surveillance for disease and screening of high-risk populations. Since the most effective treatment is given early in the course of infection, screening of pregnant women and children is a priority, as is education for these women and Ob-Gyn physicians.
While there is no effective treatment for advanced disease, efforts are underway to develop a vaccine against Chagas. The National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine just received a boost from a $2.6 million grant from the Carlos Slim Foundation for their initiative.

Chagas, like sickle cell, highlights disparities in access to screening and early treatment for serious illnesses disproportionately affecting the poor and people of color. While a moral and ethical issue, the choices made to gut public health programs for “cost saving” will also be unnecessarily costly in the end.

#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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 7.19.28 PM

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!

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!

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.

 

SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Announcement: Bedbug Genome Assembled

Bed_Bugs_CommentarayScientists have assembled the first complete genome of bedbugs, which existed in some form even before humans were around to invent beds.

February 2, 2016 | by Elizabeth Kolbert | The New Yorker

In the great contest that is life, the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, qualifies as a winner. This is true not just in the Donald Trumpian sense of being extremely difficult to get rid of but in the long-term evolutionary sense of surviving multiple geological epochs. A creature that looked very much like a bedbug was scuttling around during the time of the dinosaurs; a sort of proto-bedbug has been found in amber that’s almost a hundred million years old. It’s not clear what that bug fed on, but it’s believed that long before modern humans—and therefore beds—existed, Cimex lectularius sucked on bats’ blood. When humans took to living in caves, bedbugs descended from the bats and began feeding on people. (There are still bedbugs that prefer bats, and scientists have proposed that the lineage that prefers humans is in the process of becoming a separate species.)

Today, researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine announced that they had assembled the complete genome of Cimex lectularius. The same team is working on the cockroach genome; both projects are part of an effort to better understand so-called “living fossils.” A paper on the bedbug genome is appearing today in the journal Nature Communications.

“Bedbugs are one of New York City’s most iconic living fossils,” George Amato, one of the paper’s authors and the director of the museum’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, noted. The bedbug genome turns out to consist of almost seven hundred million base pairs. This is significantly larger than the fruit-fly genome (a hundred and twenty million base pairs), but not nearly as large as the locust genome (six billion base pairs). In addition to sequencing the bedbug’s genome, the researchers also looked at gene expression over the bug’s life cycle, which spans five instar stages. From this, they concluded that the “first blood meal of the bedbug is the most dynamic period of the bedbug’s transcriptional activity.”

Bedbugs are so-called true bugs. Members of this group also include cicadas, aphids, and leafhoppers, and all share a common arrangement of mouthparts. As anyone who has suffered an infestation knows, bedbugs use their mouthparts, or proboscises, to seek out blood vessels. Then they inject anticoagulants into their victims, to prevent themselves from, in effect, choking. The researchers found that bedbugs possess several classes of genes that code for anticoagulant proteins, including for proteins usually associated with snake venom. This doesn’t mean that bedbugs are any more closely related to snakes than other insects, just that they’ve come up with some of the same strategies.

“What we’re really finding is a structural motif—something about the sequence of amino acids that is probably involved in preventing blood from clotting in the same way a snake venom protein is, but doesn’t share an evolutionary history,” Mark Siddall, another author of the paper and a curator at the Museum of Natural History, explained.

The ancient Greeks were already complaining about bedbugs in the fifth century B.C.; references to bedbugs appear in Aristophanes and then in Aristotle. The bugs seem to have travelled with humans along ancient trade routes; by the seventh century A.D., they were in China, and by the eleventh century in Germany. From Europe, bedbugs migrated to North America and Australia with the colonists.

Bedbugs suffered a population crash in the mid-twentieth century, with the introduction of pesticides like D.D.T. But they have since evolved resistance to many of the chemicals used against them, and their numbers have roared—or, if you prefer, snuck—back up. A recent study by researchers at Virginia Tech and New Mexico State University found that bedbugs have already evolved resistance to neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides that has been in use for only twenty years or so. (The study shows that it takes something like five hundred times the amount of neonicotinoids to kill bedbugs from populations that have been exposed to the chemicals as it takes to kill bugs from populations that have never been exposed.) The researchers who put together the bedbug genome identified several genes that may be involved in pesticide resistance; this information could potentially be used to create more effective bug killers.

“It turns a light on for people to begin in a logical way to explore these areas that we’ve identified,” Amato said.

By combining the information from the genome with information from DNA swabs taken from New York City subway stations, the researchers were also able to map relationships among the city’s bedbug populations. This effort suggests that even bedbugs have a hard time getting across Manhattan.

“We found more north-south connectivity for the bedbugs than we found east-west,” Siddall observed. “And that’s reflecting what we already know to be true.”

DEADLY “KISSING BUG” HAS INFILTRATED FLORIDA…aka “Love Bug” and cousin to the BEDBUG – all transmit DEADLY CHAGAS disease

  
November 28, 2015 

The CDC reports the Kissing Bug has been discovered in the Southeastern U.S., including Florida. (Source: CBS4)

  
MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — New warnings have been issued by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the potentially deadly Chagas Disease from the kissing bug in Florida.

The bugs have invaded the southern United States, including Florida.

The infected inch-long Triatomine bugs carrying the parasite can pass it through bites. The bites are typically around the mouth and face, which is how they get their nickname “kissing bugs.”

Once in the body, the parasite can remain hidden for years, or even decades, eventually resulting in heart disease.

According to the CDC, it estimates about 8 million people are infected worldwide. Most of the infected are reportedly in Central and South America.

The CDC reports that infections have been reported in Arkansas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas.

This bug could give you the ‘kiss’ of death

Misstated info on Video 1.5 Million in US infected CHAGAS & 50 million World Wide with 15 to 20,000 deaths annually.

Nov. 19 Video transcript provided by Newsy.com

Texas health officials say “kissing bugs” have infected at least 12 people with a parasite that has the potential to kill.

“I’ve never left the United States. I’ve never even been on a cruise,” a woman told KXAS.

 photo

Video still via Newsy

“I was infected right here in Texas.”

Kissing bugs get their nickname because they favor biting human faces and lips at night. The parasite they leave behind causes Chagas disease. The bugs and parasite are usually only found in the tropics.

The disease has an acute phase much like the flu to start. Then it transitions into a chronic phase, during which up to 30 percent of people develop heart problems and 10 percent develop gastrointestinal issues.

In rare cases, Chagas disease can end in death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 8 million people in Mexico and Central and South America are infected with Chagas disease, yet most don’t even know it.

There’s no approved treatment for the disease. The CDC only has experimental drugs, which reportedly can be up to 85 percent effective, but they have to be taken soon after a person is infected.

Most counties in Texas have reported kissing bug sightings. (Video via KXAS)

KXAS reports the rise in infections is likely due to the growth of suburbs on land infested with the bugs rather than the bugs coming into the state.

This video includes images from Glenn Seplak / CC BY 2.0 and Simon Fraser University – University Communications / CC BY 2.0.

The Hidden Threat: The Kissing Bug

bugcut-2400

These seven tropical diseases are closer to home than you think. Lurking in your Dallas-area backyard is Chagas disease, caused by a parasite that infects more than 300,000 Americans. The disease can cause heart failure and death in humans and dogs and is often missed by doctors.

Or maybe you live near a typhus hot spot such as Houston? Spread by rat-biting fleas, typhus causes headaches, fever, chills and a rash.

Farther north, close to the Oklahoma border, Texans have been plagued by skin boils and sores caused by a disease called leishmaniasis — also known as the Baghdad boil. Many have suffered for years because doctors have misdiagnosed them with staph infections and given them the wrong treatment.

You’ve already heard of West Nile virus, another tropical disease that has strong-armed its way into Texas. West Nile virus has infected close to 5,000 Texans since 2002. But the real number of humans infected is probably 25,000, since about 80 percent of people who are infected don’t show symptoms.

Now get ready to meet two new tropical diseases on their way to you. Dengue and chikungunya are viruses spread by mosquitoes. Common in the Caribbean and South America, they’re being lured to the U.S. by a combination of rising temperatures and poverty.

Don’t expect your doctor to save you from these tropical diseases. Medical students spend a few days learning about this group of infections, and studies show that many health care providers in Texas and the U.S. are unaware that these infections are here or on their way.

Americans living with diseases such as Chagas can go undiagnosed for many years, by which time the infection can cause irreversible damage to the heart.

Dr. Seema Yasmin’s reporting on this project was undertaken while she was a National Health Journalism Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Center for Health Journalism. Yasmin, a physician and former CDC epidemiologist, is a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Not just tropical

Kissing Bug

Chagas disease

About: A parasite spread by the blood-sucking kissing bug — so-called because the bug likes to bite us on the face around the lips and eyes. Kissing bugs poop where they eat, and when we scratch the bite, we rub the poop and the parasite into our skin. About a third of people infected with the parasite, called Trypanosoma cruzi, develop heart disease. One in 10 suffer digestive or nerve issues.

 

Spread by: The dime-sized kissing bug, which lives in rats’ nests and wood piles and in the nooks of furniture and cracks in homes.

 

Symptoms: Swollen eyelids, breathing problems, chest pain, heart failure, death.

 

Testing: Blood test.

Treatment: Anti-parasitic drugs that can be 60 percent to 85 percent effective if given early.

 

Illustrations by Troy Oxford/The Dallas Morning News