Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease
Photos via CDC
Note: The Health Department does not test kissing bugs. If you catch bugs you suspect are kissing bugs, contact the CDC's Division of Parasitic Disease and Malaria (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the MU Extension in Greene County at 417-881-8908.
Chagas disease is caused by the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. Symptoms include:
- Acute Phase: swelling at the site of the bug bite, fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting.
- Chronic Phase: cardiac complications, intestinal complications.
- There is anti-parasitic treatment available through the CDC.
- The parasite is found in bug feces.
- The kissing bug defecates while feeding.
- Feces can get rubbed into the wound or into a mucous membrane leading to infection.
- Chagas disease is NOT transmitted person-to-person.
The likelihood of getting Chagas disease from a kissing bug in the United States is low, even if the bug is infected.
- People can have allergic reactions to the bite of a kissing bug.
- Symptoms include redness and swelling.
- An allergic reaction does not mean you have Chagas disease.
- Beneath porches.
- Between rocky structures.
- Under cement.
- In wood, brush piles, or beneath bark.
- In rodent nests or animal burrows.
- In dog houses or kennels.
- In chicken coops or houses.