Pittsburgh July 21, 2019
A Parasitic Bug May Have Been Spotted In Pittsburgh And Its Bite Can Be Deadly
Pittsburghers are generally accustomed to the insects – mosquitoes, bees, and hornets – that return during the warmer months. The spring and summer of 2019 also signaled the return of the cicadas – loud but harmless to humans – for many areas of Western Pennsylvania. However, a parasitic bug has also been spotted throughout the state. Here’s what you need to know about the kissing bug in Pittsburgh.
The kissing bug made national news in late April after a story broke that a young girl in Delaware had been bitten in 2018. She, fortunately, did not develop any symptoms, but the parasite can result in the sometimes-fatal Chagas Disease.
You may have heard of the kissing bug referred to by one of its other names, such as triatomine, cone-nosed bugs, and blood suckers. The blood-feeding parasites are most commonly found in the southern United States, Mexico, and South and Central America.
In recent years, however, the kissing bug has appeared in Pennsylvania. We don’t know
how many people, if any, have bitten by the kissing bug in Pittsburgh – or in the state – nor do we know how many have developed Chagas Disease.
Unfortunately, Chagas Disease has not yet been added to the list of diseases that doctors must report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Triatomine bugs got their title "kissing bug" as the parasites generally bite on and around the eyes and the mouth. Kissing bugs will feed off the blood of all types of mammals, reptiles, and birds.
Kissing bugs are most active at night. The CDC recommends avoiding areas under porches and cement, and animal burrows. The blood suckers are sometimes found indoors around pets and human beds.
A bite may result in Chagas Disease. The acute form, which is often cured with treatment, may present with such symptoms as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, body aches, and headaches, according to the Mayo Clinic. See a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you’ve been bitten.
Chronic Chagas Disease is also possible, although symptoms might not present for years. Look for such symptoms as heart failure, difficulty swallowing, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, and abdominal pain.
However, there is
some good news. Not everyone who is bitten by the kissing bug develops acute or chronic Chagas Disease, and not every kissing bug carries the disease.
Take precautions to protect yourself and your family from the kissing bug. Keep your pets indoors, particularly at night, and make sure all windows and doors have screens. Those screens have holes? Patch them.
Beds – both human and animal – are also common places to find the kissing bug.
Click here for comprehensive information from the CDC.
Have you heard of the kissing bug before? Join the conversation in the comments! Have you been in an area where the cicadas have reemerged?
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