Blood-Sucking ‘Kissing Bug’ That Can Cause Serious Illness Detected In Delaware

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed a case of a child being bitten by a “kissing bug” that occurred in 2018. The blood-sucking insects are known to help spread disease, so the CDC warns people in the area to be vigilant.

According to ABC News, the child’s parents became concerned with a bite on their daughter’s face and had it investigated by the Delaware Division of Public Health and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. It was determined that their daughter had been bitten by the Triatoma sanguisuga, known more commonly as the kissing bug.

Kissing bugs are known to commonly bite people on the face or near the mouth.

This insect can carry the parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes a disease known as Chagas.

“If the kissing bug bites you and it has a blood meal and then it defecates and then you scratch that area and rub it into the wound or rub your eyes, you could become infected,” Paula Stigler-Granados, PhD, assistant professor at Texas State University’s School of Health Administration, told Health.

Approximately 300,000 in the U.S. and 8 million people in Central and South America are known to have contracted Chagas. While many show no side-effects, the disease can cause some serious complications including heart failure and stroke. So far, the girl who was bitten in July of last year has shown no adverse side effects.

The CDC lists fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, rash, and localized swelling as initial symptoms of a bite from a kissing bug. If it is known a person has been bitten by a kissing bug, anti-trypanosomal medication, which is available only from the CDC, is administered.

While this is the first recent recorded case of the kissing bug being present in Kent County, there was an earlier suspected case. However, the insect was identified as a milkweed bug and destroyed before Texas’ A&M University’s Kissing Bug Citizen Science Program could investigate further.

For those living in Kent County or other areas of Delaware who are concerned about being bitten by a kissing bug, ABC News and the CDC offer the following suggestions to keep your home safe from kissing bugs.

  • All external lights should face away from the home, dog kennels, and chicken coops. These lights should also be turned off when not in use to avoid attracting kissing bugs.
  • It is advised to clear away all trash, wood, and rock piles that are located close to the home. In addition, any bird and animal nests should also be removed.
  • If concerned about a kissing bug infestation, it is advised to seek advice or help from professional pest controllers.
  • Cracks and gaps around windows, air conditions, walls, roofs, doors, and crawl spaces should all be investigated and sealed. In addition, chimney flues should be closed tightly when not in use and screens should be fitted to all windows and doors.
  • Those with pets are advised to allow their animals to sleep indoors and their regular resting places outside should also be monitored for the presence of kissing bugs.