Don’t let the ‘kissing bugs’ bite


  • Being bitten by a kissing bug could pose a life-threatening situation to humans as one could contract Chagas disease that could cause harmful heart and digestive problems.
  • This blood-sucking triatomine bug, which was discovered in and present in the US since 1899, can live either indoor or outdoor and usually emerges at night.
  • If a person is bitten, he or she should seek immediate medical attention to avoid getting serious illness or even death.

A bite from an insect called the “kissing bug” (as it tends to bite humans on the face, particularly near the mouth and eyes) could lead to serious health issues. The blood-sucking triatomine bugs usually hide in walls and roofs during daylight and come out at night time.

If an individual is bitten by a kissing bug, it could cause Chagas disease that could be fatal. Chagas disease, which is also referred to as American trypanosomiasis, is an inflammatory, infectious disease that is caused by the insect Trypanosoma cruzi.

The disease is present in kissing bugs, which is common in South America, Central America, and Mexico. Chagas can result in harmful heart and digestive problems if it will be left untreated, the Mayo Clinic said.

Kissing bugs can thrive indoors, in cracks and holes of the house, or in a variety of outdoor settings which include porches, rocky structures, under cement, rock, wood, brush piles, bark, rodent nests or animal burrows, dog houses or kennels, and chicken coops or houses. 

With a size of about 3/4 up to 1 1/4 inches lengthwise, a kissing bug is easily identified by a band around its body edge with orange or red stripes. It has long, thin legs with mouths that display a big, black extension of its heads, which also had it nicknamed as “cone-nose bug.”

To keep these bugs away at home, gaps around doors and windows must be sealed. The same goes for any holes and cracks in screens or walls. Cleaning up the piles of wood or rocks in the house will also help to get rid of kissing bugs.

Should an individual get bitten by this insect, he or she should seek immediate medical attention. The impact of the bite may vary, from non-noticeable side effects to anaphylactic shock that could cause stroke, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and even death.

To date, about 11 different species of kissing bugs were identified in 28 states of the US. They have been discovered throughout the country since 1899 as the disease they carry has been worrisome for people.


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