An insect seen on occasion in urban neighborhoods has been responsible for the death of over 400 dogs in Texas alone.
The Triatomine Bug (also known as the 'kissing bug') transmits a potentially deadly parasite when ingested by curious animals, or by eating the feces of other infected animals such as possums, raccoons, etc.
The parasite can also be deadly to young children.
The bug is nocturnal, therefore in order to keep pets safe, avoid leaving them outside at night.
Symptoms of Chagas' Disease are as follows:
- Facial swelling or swelling around the site of the bite
- Swollen and painful lymph glands and fatigue
- In infants or young children, severe brain damage causing death may occur. The symptoms may last for 4-8 weeks before disappearing.
Chronic Stage Symptoms:
- Cardiac problems including cardiomyopathy (or an enlarged heart); altered heart rate or heart rhythm abnormalities, or cardiac arrest
- Esophagus enlargement or increasing size of the large bowel causing difficulties with swallowing or severe constipation
There is currently no vaccine against Chagas' Disease, nor any sure fire treatment options, so knowledge and information is a person's best line of defense.
If you see a 'Kissing Bug', then contact your health authority to report your findings.