An alarming new report on the so-called ‘kissing bug’ has some incredible news about the disturbing behavior of this insect.
The bugs are pretty gross to begin with. They are named after their habit of biting humans on the face and often near the lips while sleeping, and then defecating into the wounds. The feces can contain a parasite named Trypanasoma cruzi, leading to Chagas disease or trypanosomiasis.
This disease is apparently much deadlier than we realized, even though many people often get mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The study found that we may be underreporting deaths from this disease by two or even three times. And this was true regardless of the age group.
“Chagas disease, affecting millions of people in Central and South America, is classified as one of the 17 most important neglected diseases by the World Health Organization,” the statement from PLOS reads. “Now, researchers have found that even the non-symptomatic stage of Chagas infection, which can last for many years, more than doubles a person’s risk of death. The new study, published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, also concludes that deaths from Chagas have likely been under-reported in the past.
“Chagas disease is an insect-borne parasitic disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi. A bite from an infected Triatominae, or kissing bug, can cause initial swelling, fever, and headaches but symptoms generally fade away after a few months. Infected people can then live for decades with no more signs of the disease, during which time clinicians have assumed they have no increased mortality. Years later, it’s known that cardiac, neurological, and digestive symptoms of Chagas can reemerge.”