The “kissing bug” doesn’t sound like the kind of insect that would give you any trouble. But this tiny insect is responsible for hundreds upon hundreds of dog deaths in Texas and other southern states in America.
The kissing bug, which is also called the Assassin Bug and is scientifically known as the triatomine, carries a diseases known as the Chagas disease from the parasite Trypanosoma Cruzi. This disease is rare but deadly, and there is no known cure for it at this moment. As an insect, the kissing bug feeds on blood, and often consumes the blood found around a pet’s nose and eyes as they sleep.
The Chagas disease is transmitted to both animals and humans when their fecal matter enters the body through open wounds, cuts, or mucous membranes. Naturally, some pets may also become infected when they eat the insects if they find them in their yard.
Chagas disease is so dangerous because it is virtually undetectable until it has progressed to a later stage and attacked the heart, at which point it is untreatable. Symptoms like swelling of the eyelids and throat can show after first infection, yet are often mistaken for flu symptoms. However, as they progress, this becomes worse and more painful and can even cause asphyxiation.
It’s important to note that dogs cannot transmit the disease to humans in any way, and also that this is not an epidemic. However, the bugs are known to exist in all southern states and some midwestern states, and they can live under rocks and cement, in the forest, in wall cracks, or in some outdoor pet houses.
If you think you, your family member, or your pet has come into contact with a kissing bug and may be infected, seek medical advice immediately.