Texas scientists researching Chagas disease and its effects on canines and humans are looking for help from the public in learning more about the potentially fatal, parasite-caused, all-but-incurable disease spread by insects with an anything-but-threatening common name: kissing bugs.
Persons encountering any of the seven species of kissing bugs – members of the genus Triatoma and called assassin bugs, conenose bugs and chinches – found in Texas can carefully collect the bugs and submit them to programs aimed at learning more about the insects, whicht are vectors for the protozoan parasite causing Chagas disease.
Researchers at Texas A&M recommend people encountering kissing bugs and wanting to submit them for research avoid touching the bugs with bare hands. Use gloves or a small plastic bag to catch the insect and store it in a sealed bag or other container. Clean all surfaces that contacted the bug with a bleach solution.
Researchers ask that persons collecting a kissing bug note where the bug was found, date, time of day, whether the insect was alive and what it was doing when encountered.
Information on where and how to send the bugs to Texas A&M can be obtained by emailing KissingBug@cvm.tamu.edu or calling 979-458-4924.
Texas Department of State Health Services also solicits citizens to submit kissing bugs for testing. Information on how to submit the insects can be found at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/health/zoonosis/Triatominae.