Blood-sucking ‘kissing bug’ reported throughout southern US, moving north

Face-biting 'kissing bugs' are spreading a serious potentially fatal disease

(GRAY NEWS) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning against a blood-sucking bug that can spread a potentially deadly disease.

Triatomine sanguisuga, sometimes called “kissing bugs,” attack humans by biting them in the face.

The bite is often painless, but the insect can spread the Chagas disease in its feces, the CDC said. The disease can develop into heart disease, including heart failure, stroke or life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias, according to a 2018 release from the American Heart Association.

There have been more than 300,000 cases of people in the U.S. infected with the disease, according to the AHA.

These bugs are spreading north, according to reports.

The CDC said in a statement April 19 that a child in Delaware was bitten on the face in July 2018 as she watched television in her bedroom. The girl did not become sick.

The finding was the first confirmed case of Triatoma sanguisuga in Delaware.

The most common symptom of the bug bite is swelling, according to the CDC. But most who are bitten show no signs.

The insects, known as Triatomine bugs, attack humans by biting them in the face.
The insects, known as Triatomine bugs, attack humans by biting them in the face. (Source: CDC)

The bugs are mostly active at night and feed on the blood of mammals, birds and reptiles, the CDC said. They live in a wide range of environmental settings, generally within close proximity to an animal the bug can feed on, called a blood host.

The critters are typically found in the southern part of the United States, Central America and South America.

The CDC recommends locating outdoor lights away from homes, dog kennels and chicken coops and turning off lights when not in use.

Also do not touch or squash the bug, but rather, place it in a container and fill it with rubbing alcohol or freeze it.

Surfaces that come into contact with the insect should also be thoroughly cleaned.

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