Kissing Bug Spreading “Silent Killer” Disease-Truth!
Summary of eRumor:
The Latin American “kissing bug” has infected people in the U.S. with Chagas disease, which is also called “the silent killer.”
It’s true that triatomine bugs, which are often called “kissing bugs,” have been linked to Chagas disease in the United States.
Researchers with the American Society of Topical Medicine and Hygiene estimated that there were about 300,000 cases of Chagas disease in the U.S. by early November 2014. The potentially fatal disease is caused by an infection by a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, or T. cruzi, and was first diagnosed in the U.S. in 2007.
Kissing bugs feed on the blood of sleeping humans and animals. After they feed, infected bugs defecate, and T. cruzi parasites from their feces are able to enter the body through the eyes, mouth, nose or an open wound, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The Mayo Clinic says it’s also possible to become infected by eating uncooked contaminated food, blood transfusions, infected pets and spending time in forests where infected animals like raccoons and opossums live.
Symptoms of Chagas disease are often mild or non-existent at first, which is why it’s called “the silent killer.” As the disease progresses, patients experience fever, body aches and swelling around the bite mark. More advanced symptoms include irregular heartbeat, an enlarged heart, problems with digestion and bowel movements and strokes, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC).
The World Health Organization estimates that 8 million people are infected with Chagas disease, most of them in Latin America.
Researchers from Baylor University collected 40 kissing bugs from 11 counties in south-central Texas and identified 17 patients from Houston who were diagnosed with Chagas disease, the Washington Posts reported in November 2014.
“We are astonished to not only find such a high rate of individuals testing positive for Chagas in their blood, but also high rates of heart disease that appear to be Chagas-related,” Nolan Garcia, a researcher with the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, said.