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!

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.

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Michelle Bennett/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image

Taxi cabs outside Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

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

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

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

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

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

Warga, Craig/New York Daily News

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

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

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

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

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

They said the discovery could lead to better insecticides.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Watch this BedBug go from flat to FAT

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

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

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

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

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES

Messing with BedBugs’ Genes Could Carry Other Risks?

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

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photo:  Bluejake/Sara Bibi/Gothamist

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

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

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

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

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

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Best Way to Search Hotel Room for BedBugs -Including that ‘Upscale Boutique’ Hotel Room. “They’re [BedBugs] Everywhere” According to University of Maine Video.

January 27, 2016 | By Greg Keraghosian, Associate Travel Editor | Yahoo

Bedbugs aren’t a big concern when you travel … unless you get them. Then they’re a flesh-biting nightmare, and they won’t just ruin your trip — they can ruin your life for months afterward if they hitch a ride home with you.

Don’t think you’ll find them only in a two-bit motel — there are well-documented cases of tourists having their upscale hotel getaways ruined by massive bedbug bites. And it’s no use traveling to a region that’s bedbug-free: The data says they can be found all over the U.S.

What’s the best way to weed out these tiny critters? We love this video demonstration from the University of Maine, in which Jim Dill, an expert with a sweet New England accent, shows us how to look for bedbugs upon first checking into a hotel.

We combine his tips along with some other expert advice into a step-by-step guide for avoiding a bedbug-infested holiday:

Put your bags in the tub, away from the luggage rack

Bedbugs can hide in luggage racks too. (Photo: Getty Images)

This should be the first thing you do after checking in, and it’s often not mentioned. While a luggage rack may be away from the bed and elevated, bedbugs could easily be hiding out within the fabric of the straps. To be extra safe, put your bags in the bathroom tub, which bedbugs are unlikely to climb into.

Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, also says you could leave your bags at the door when you first check in: “Just don’t unpack anything until you’ve checked for bedbugs,” she told Yahoo Travel.

Start your inspection by checking the headboard

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Bedbugs don’t stray far from the bed — as Dill says, their range is about 20 feet away from their host — but they’re sneaky and can play hide-and-seek better than any 5-year-old. They’re also small and flat (when they haven’t fed): The reddish-brown adults are about the size of an apple seed, and the white eggs are the size of a pinhead. So look closely.

Take a flashlight (if you have a smartphone, it probably has one) and get a good look at the headboard, which is a common hiding spot, and don’t forget to look in the creases.

“Many people overlook the headboard because it can be difficult to remove from the wall to examine it,” Louis N. Sorkin, BCE, a consulting entomologist with Entsult Associates, told Yahoo Travel.

And just to digress for a minute, Sorkin should know bedbugs well — he stores thousands of them at home for study and keeps them alive by letting them feed on him, since he doesn’t react adversely to bites. Chuck Norris has nothing on Louis N. Sorkin.

Check the piping of the mattress

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The crevices of a mattress’s piping make for a great bedbug hideout, so take off the sheets and look closely at the top and bottom parts.

Check the mattress or mattress pad for blood spots or poop

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We know, this isn’t the most romantic way to begin a hotel stay, but other than seeing the bugs themselves, this is the best giveaway of whether any bedbugs have been feeding recently. The bloodstains will be red, and the bugs’ poop will look like tiny black specks.

Check the nearby drawers and nightstand

These make for another nice, dark hiding spot for bedbugs. Don’t just look on the corners of the inside — to be really thorough, take the drawers out from the nightstand and look under them too.

Check all other prime hiding spots

This could include the aforementioned luggage rack, bed frame, picture frames, and anything else within a few feet of the bed.

What if, gasp, you find bedbugs when you check in?

What a typical bedbug looks like.

I’ll share a semi-embarrassing story: Last year I stayed at a boutique hotel in British Columbia, and minutes after checking in I saw some apple-seed-size, orange-brown bugs on the window and the windowsill.

So I did what any sane person would do: I freaked out, zipped up the bags I had placed on the floor, and ran down to the front desk. To the hotel’s credit, the guy working there immediately came up to my room to check on the problem. Which, it turns out, was no problem — they were just a species of ladybug I’d never seen (Canadians!). But he examined the mattress and the room just to be sure.

Provided what you found are in fact bedbugs, notify the front desk immediately. It’s probably OK to ask for another room in the hotel, but make sure it’s not next door or right above or below (and check that room thoroughly too).

What if, double gasp, you wake up the next morning with bedbugs?

This is the scarier scenario, because you don’t know where the bugs might be in your stuff, and you must make sure they don’t leave with you. Since the hotel is going to owe you one, insist that it launder your clothes immediately. And washing them isn’t enough: Mannes of the NPMA advises putting all fabric in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes and steaming your luggage.

To be extra safe, before returning home place all your garments in a vacuum-sealed bag and dry them again.

Bonus question: Could bedbugs hide on your pets?

Both Mannes and Sorkin said this is an unlikely scenario, but Sorkin added that it’s not impossible.

“There are exceptions where infestations have been allowed to proliferate due to many reasons,” he said. “Hotel staff haven’t been given proper education. I’ve seen infestations in homes where people and pet dogs and cats both had been fed upon over many months or longer.”

So just to be safe, give Checkers a good look before you check out.

Bonus question No. 2: How can I research if a hotel has bedbugs?

There are some websites where anonymous guests can report bedbug infestations at certain hotels, such as BedBugs.net and the Bedbug Registry. But there’s no way to be sure if the reports are accurate, and ultimately no hotel is 100 percent safe from bedbugs because of how easily they stow away with guests. Your best bet is to examine the room yourself.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

One Week Ago – October 7, 2015 – East Cleveland, OHIO “It’s Definitely a Bed Bug”

October 7, 2015 – East Cleveland, OH

Gerald Strothers Jr. takes the podium to tell about two deaths in East Cleveland only to be interrupted by a bed bug in the court room.

Despite being told that prisoners from the EC Jail were subjected to bed bugs and then bringing those insects to the court room EC City Council decides to hold their meeting.  Once the bugs detected fresh BLOOD they begin to leave the fabric chairs and latch on to clothing and bags.  Many people had never seen a bed bug up close and this video shows their school science class type excitement.