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“Kissing Bugs” Have Arrived In California

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that an insect, known as the “kissing bug” has been spotted in California.

    This pest is officially called the “triatomine bug” and it can carry a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi) which causes Chagas disease.kissingbugdraw

    The CDC estimates that as many as eight million people in Mexico, Central America, and South America have Chagas disease. Most of these people do not know they are infected but if not treated, the infection is lifelong and can be life threatening.

    Triatomine bugs become infected by biting an infected animal or person. After becoming infected, these pests pass T. cruzi parasites in their feces. Triatomines hide during the day and emerge at night. They tend to feed on people’s faces. After biting and ingesting blood, they defecate on the person. A person can become infected if T. cruzi parasites in the feces enter the body through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin. An unsuspecting person may accidentally scratch or rub the feces into the bite wound, eyes or mouth.

    Triatomine bugs typically infest poor-quality dwellings and are most active at night. Those who sleep indoors, in well-constructed homes (for example, air-conditioned or screened rooms) are at low risk for infected triatomine bugs. The CDC says that preventative measures include treating infested dwellings with residual insecticides, using treated bed nets, wearing protective clothing, and applying insect repellent to exposed skin.