Saturday, April 9, 2016

Kissing bugs may sound all sweet and innocent but they're anything but that. The nasty little 

things are actually parasitic and even deadly in some cases because they spread Chagas disease 

to both humans and animals. More and more people in South America and the US are 

increasingly contracting the once rare parasitic infection and it's now estimated that over 

300,000 people are currently infected in the US alone. In the state of Texas about 400 dogs have 

died as a result of Chagas, as dogs are among the most susceptible to the disease.

The insect responsible for all of this death and disease, Kissing bugs, are known by their 

scientific name “Triatomine Bugs.” They operate by biting sleeping people and animals around 

the eyes and mouth areas because they feed on blood. Then, when their feces comes into 

contact with either the bite area or a mucous membrane like an eye, they pass the parasite 

known as Trypanosoma Cruzi to their victim. The parasite is spread this way because it lives in 

the bug's feces and that happens to be the main way in which it enters a host's body. As if that 

wasn't already nasty enough, dogs can contract Chagas in additional ways, such as by eating 

either the bugs or infected animal feces. Chagas isn't only disgusting in the way that it's spread, 

but also in the way that it affects its victims. Most of the time people or animals who contract 

the disease don't even know they have it until it's progressed to a later, more serious stage. In 

some cases it's asymptomatic and there are no symptoms whatsoever until a sudden serious 

one appears seemingly out of nowhere. That's why it's being called the “silent killer” and people 

are being urged to familiarize themselves the signs and symptoms of it, which are listed below:

swollen abdomen.

confusion, weakness 

lack of coordination 

seizures or jerky movements 

loss of appetite 


 depression, lethargy -increased heart rate -congestive heart failure

Many of the above symptoms are quite common for other diseases so thankfully there are tests 

available that can detect Chagas. When the disease is found early enough it can usually be 

successfully treated and any of its harmful side-effects lessened. In addition, there are 

preventative measures you can take to limit your pets exposure to the bugs. It's not just dogs 

who are susceptible, any animal that spends time outdoors is at risk for contracting it, 

especially in the southern regions of the USA. Here are several things that you can do to 

decrease the overall risk that kissing bugs pose to your pets

Remove wood, brush, and rock piles near your house or yard, the bugs prefer these areas 

Keep pets in at night since the bugs are nocturnal 

Seal up holes in window screens and cracks in crawl or storage spaces

 Elevate outdoor dog houses off the ground

 Try to place any outdoor/yard lights away from the house, they attract bugs

If you keep your house and yard clean and in line with the above points you can greatly reduce 

the risk of exposure to pets and yourself. Check out the video for more information on the 

disease and to hear Kiska's story. She's a sweet dog living in Texas who almost died after 

contracting Chagas. For Kiska it was almost too late, there's no cure for her since her disease 

was detected when it was in the later stages, and so now she has to live with a pacemaker. 

Please share her story and pass this important information on to your friends and family. If 

more people are aware of it, more lives and animals can be saved, or at the very least 




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