The deadly “kissing bug” has been confirmed in dozens of U.S. states, including Michigan, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Chagas disease, as it’s officially known, earned the moniker because the triatomine bugs that transmit it typically bite people in the face.
The CDC said in September the kissing bug was making its way north from South and Central America. If Chagas disease is left untreated, the infection is lifelong and can be life-threatening, the agency said. Most infected people don’t experience symptoms, which can include fever, fatigue, aches, headache, rash and swelling at the site of transmission. But in severe cases, Chagas disease can lead to stroke or heart failure.
Currently, about 300,000 people in the United States and 8 million people worldwide are living with the disease, and researchers expect more U.S. infections could occur with climate change.
Kissing bug infections can also be transmitted from mother-to-baby, through contaminated blood products and organ transplants, and, more rarely, during laboratory accidents or through contaminated food or drink. In many countries where the disease is common, donated blood is screened for the disease.
Through found primarily in the southern half of the United States, the kissing bug bit a Delaware girl in 2018, the CDC confirmed last week. The girl was bitten in the face while watching television in her bedroom in the family’s home near a wooded area. The family had not recently traveled outside of their local area, which the CDC said was evidence the kissing bug is in the state.
The girl did not get sick from the kissing bug, according to news reports.
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