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Beware! Deadly “Kissing Bug” Threat to NJ

Kissing Bug Case Confirmed in Delaware!

Updated April 2019

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now confirmed that a Delaware girl was bitten on the face by a kissing bug last summer while in her home watching television. This is the first confirmed case of the kissing bug in the state. The girl did not suffer from ill effects. At this time there is no evidence of the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi which the kissing bug carries in the state. However, this case is causing concern that there may be an increase of kissing bug bites this summer, 2019. Even though at this time the risk of Trypanosoma cruzi being transmitted is minimal, there is fear that the transmission will increase due to the climate changes.

All About The Kissing Bug

There’s a chance you may have seen reports about dangerous kissing bugs on social media. These insects look a lot like cockroaches. There have been reports that they could be a threat to New Jersey as they’ve infested surrounding states. While they’re perceived as dangerous, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that kissing bugs aren’t always deadly.

However, the bugs do carry Chagas, an infectious disease that can be inflammatory, even fatal if not treated right away. Kissing bugs are classified as triatomine and carry the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. The bugs have been spotted in 28 states in the past few years. This is why the CDC reports that there is a good chance that New Jersey will get an influx of these bugs. Assistant professor of epidemiology at Texas A&M University’s veterinary and biomedical school Sarah Hamer is leading an investigative team concerning the kissing bug. She says that it’s a good thing people are becoming more aware of the insect. This can help people to easily spot the bug and avoid it.

What Does the Kissing Bug Do?

The kissing bug is nocturnal. It got its name because it feeds on the blood of mammals, similar to the way a mosquito does. However, the bug mainly bites around the mouth and face, and mostly while people are sleeping. If the kissing bug is infected with the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite and defecates while on a human, this causes the bite to develop the Chagas infection. This infection, Hamer explains, doesn’t happen often. For the infection to set in, the bug has to be present and feed on the blood of a human. The parasite also has to be rubbed into the skin.

For every 900-4,000 encounters with a kissing bug infected with the parasite there is one Chagas case.

When Is the Kissing Bug Active?

The kissing bug is active in the summer and is prevalent during the early part of the fall season. People bitten by the bug may experience flu-like symptoms like body aches, tiredness, fever, loss of appetite and vomiting. Between 20-30% of people infected develop Chagas. This can result in chest pain, fatigue and difficulty breathing. In some cases, Chagas can cause sudden death. Chagas can also affect dogs, so if you find the bugs on your property, keep your pets away from them.

The Chagas epidemic started in Latin America, where the bugs made their way into people’s homes. In the United States, however, kissing bugs are more likely to be found outside. The insects like to settle in areas where other mammals are, such as in a chicken coop or dog house. They are also found in dark places like under the porch, in brush piles, and between rocks and wood.

If you see a kissing bug or think you have on your property or want to know if the insects are living in parts of your home or yard, call the expert professionals at NJ Pest to evaluate your home and provide you with effective and safe extermination options. Contact us here to learn more