Warning after blood-sucking 'kissing bugs' spread deadly disease

Blood-sucking “kissing bugs” spreading a potentially life-threatening disease are starting to become more widespread, scientists have warned.

At least 8 million people have been infected by Chagas disease – the deadly infection spread by insects known as triatomines.

The disease was previously only found in Central and South America, and Mexico, but has recently spread to the US, with around 300,000 Americans also carrying the disease, a recent news release from the American Heart Association states.

Blood-sucking 'kissing bugs' spread deadly Chagas disease
Blood-sucking “kissing bugs” spreading potentially life-threatening Chagas disease are starting to become more widespread. Source: Getty Images

The disease is triggered by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and can cause chronic heart disease, strokes, or cardiac arrest, in about one third of those infected.

It is sometimes called the “silent killer” because almost 70 per cent of people with the disease do not present with symptoms.

After the bugs feed on the human, they tend to defecate near the wound.

The kissing bug can spread infection if the bite is scratched or touched and the faeces becomes rubbed into the open wound, eye, or mouth.

“Early detection of Chagas disease is critical, allowing prompt initiation of therapy when the evidence for cure is strong,” Caryn Bern, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California in San Francisco, warned in an online statement.

If untreated, infection is lifelong and can be life threatening.

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