Tuesday 25 October 2016

The rise of the 'kissing bug' - the potentially deadly insect on the move

The nocturnal insect favours biting victims on the lips or near the mouth while they are sleeping

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Published 25/11/2015 | 13:28

Picture: Texas A&M University
Picture: Texas A&M University

The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDCP) has confirmed that the 'kissing bug' has been spotted in several states in the south east of the country.

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The insect, also referred to as the 'silent killer', carries 'chagas', a disease that can kill humans if left untreated.

Itt's not the insect's bite that proves fatal, it's what happens after the bite. The kissing bug has an unusual habit - it always excretes after biting. And its faeces contain the parasite that carries 'chagas'.

While there's no danger of the disease being transferred from human to human, if the kissing bug excretes on fruit or uncooked food the chagas disease can be contracted by the consumer.

Pregnant women can potentially transmit the disease to their baby.

Chagas causes flu-like symptoms like fever, body aches and swelling on the area of the bite.

The disease attacks tissue and muscles in the body and can cause complications like heart disease.

The ACDCP advise thorough washing of the hands as an effective means of keeping the disease at bay.

The insect is native to Central and South America, but has begun to migrate north in recent months, entering the southern half of the United States.

The creatures can live indoors, in cracks and holes of housing, or outside it can lurk underneath porches and between rocks in a garden.

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