A Parasitic Bug Has Been Spotted Throughout Pennsylvania And Its Bite Can Be Deadly
Summer brings with it its fair share of insects – from mosquitoes to bees. Western Pennsylvania has also had to deal with an onslaught of cicadas this year, which are noisy but harmless to humans. However, there is one bug – the so-called kissing bug – that’s been spotted throughout Pennsylvania. You can protect yourself from the parasite that causes Chagas Disease by taking a few precautions.
Back in late April 2019, the media was rife with warnings about the kissing bug. The media reports came after the news that a little girl in Delaware had been bitten by the bug in 2018 while sitting in her bedroom watching television.
Fortunately, the little girl did not get sick but the bug, also known as the triatomine parasite, can lead to Chagas Disease, which can be fatal.
The kissing bug is known by a few different names: triatomine, blood suckers, and cone-nosed bugs. Regionally, it’s typically found in the southern part of the United States, in Mexico, and in Central and South America.
However, it’s also been spotted as far north as Pennsylvania. How many people have been bitten and have developed Chagas Disease in the state is unknown because doctors are not required to report cases of the disease.
Kissing bugs typically bite victims on the face, most notably near the eyes and the mouth. They have earned the name kissing bug because they bite on the face
and they feed on blood.
Humans aren’t the only victims of kissing bugs; the blood sucking bugs feed on most mammals, reptiles, and birds.
You’re likely to encounter a kissing bug at night (when they’re most active) in certain places, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those places include under cement, beneath porches, between slabs of rock, and in wild animal burrows.
Worried about finding the dreaded kissing bug
indoors? Beds – for both humans and dogs – attract the kissing bug. If you have mice or other rodents, they’ll also attract the bug.
If you’re bitten by a kissing bug and develop Chagas Disease, you may suffer from either the acute or the chronic form of the disease.
Symptoms of the acute disease (which generally passes with treatment) often include swelling in the area you were bitten, swelling of the eyelids, fatigue, headaches, and loss of appetite, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The chronic form of Chagas Disease may develop if the acute form is not treated. The most severe symptoms of the disease, which may not even present themselves for up to two decades, include an irregular heartbeat, a sudden heart attack, heart failure, and difficulty swallowing.
If you suspect you’ve been bitten by the kissing bug, consult with your doctor as soon as possible. Fortunately, not everyone who is bitten will develop Chagas Disease, and not every kissing bug carries the tiny parasite that causes the disease.
can protect yourself from the kissing bug by having all windows and doors screened, covering all holes in screens, keeping any lights in your yard away from the house, and allowing your pets to stay inside, particularly at night.
Click here for the CDC’s website, which features all the important information you’ll need to stay safe.
Do you know of any cases of the kissing bug in Pennsylvania? Join the conversation in the comments! Are you in one of the areas where the cicadas reemerged this summer?
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