‘Kissing Bug’ Brings Deadly Chagas Disease to Texas
There is a bug that has made it's way to Texas, it looks harmless, but can mean major health problems if not diagnosed early. The Reduviid bug or 'kissing bug' carries a parasite that causes Chagas disease and can lead to heart damage and possible death if left untreated.The bug is generally tropical and resides in South America, Mexico Brazil and Central America. It has made it's way to the US now and Texas in particular. The bug carries a parasite that is excreted in it's feces. The bugs bite you on the face while you sleep and then defecate leaving behind the parasite to infect your blood stream.
The bite leaves a small red abrasion on your skin that can look like any other bug bite and usually there are no symptoms at first. Weeks or even months later though you may begin to show some symptoms like fever, body aches, rash, loss of appetite, headache, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting. Upon further examination, if you find a doctor who will explore it more, you may find swollen glands and enlarged spleen and liver. Some cases go undetected or misdiagnosed because this is fairly new to the region and may favor other causes.
The CDC believes there are an estimated 300,000- 400,000 cases in the US. The disease can be passed from mother to child during gestation as well. In it's origin countries there are an estimated 8 million cases, most of which are undiagnosed.
An initial blood test can determine the existence of the disease and which point further testing can be conducted to determine the stage of infection. There are a few medications that can cure it in early stages; however, in later stages symptoms can be managed but there is no cure.
This is not to scare anyone because most doctors agree that the risk of getting the disease here in the states is relatively low, but it can happen. In my opinion, knowledge is power and knowing the symptoms and signs of the bite it's self, might help in getting a correct and early diagnosis.