Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease
Over Thanksgiving there was a lot of stir on social media regarding kissing bugs. Nancy Hinkle, a UGA Extension entomologist provided the following information regarding kissing bugs and the Chagas disease.
Most kissing bugs are not infected with the parasite that causes Chagas disease although the insect itself is common. The Chagas disease parasite is transmitted only by the feces of infected kissing bugs. This means that the bite of a kissing bug will not infect you, however if you rub the bug’s excrement in your eyes or into your mouth that may be a different story!
In the last 60 years, there have only been 23 reports of Chagas disease. Texas, unfortunately has a lot of infected kissing bugs, which is why they are constantly in the news.
Most of the kissing bug feces are concentrated in raccoon, opossum, skunk or armadillo nests, where the bugs live. You can get kissing bug feces through a break in the skin, swallowing, inhalation, or through rubbing your eyes.
In order to best avoid the bugs, and their feces, turn off your house porch lights to avoid attracting the bugs. Seal around doors and windows with weather-stripping and replace door sweeps. During this time of year, the freezing cold weather sends kissing bugs into hibernation so the risk is even lower thankfully.