Not-So-Deadly Kissing Bugs?
Kissing bugs and their gradual invasion of the U.S. has been all over the news for months now. People are getting increasingly concerned over this pest that transmits the possibly fatal Chagas disease. But, are we really in as much danger as the media is making us out to be? It turns out they may be exaggerating just a bit.
First, let’s make clear how exactly Chagas disease is transmitted by the kissing bug. Kissing bugs bite people in the middle of the night, usually around the eyes or mouth. While they carry the disease, unlike mosquitos kissing bugs don’t spread the disease through their bite. To infect a human the kissing bug must also defecate in the wound it created. Then the fecal matter carrying the Chagas disease must infect the wound. This perfect storm of events is apparently much more rare than we’ve been led to believe.
Sarah Hamer, assistant professor of epidemiology at Texas A&M, claims that this is actually a lot of events required. The bug has to feed on a person and then defecate in that wound. Finally, the parasite must be rubbed into the wound. What makes the likelihood of this all coming together to infect you with Chagas even more unlikely is that it significantly less kissing bugs feed on humans compared to mosquitos. The chances of them even biting you is much less than you probably think.
Have you read about kissing bugs lately? Has the news made you terrified of being bitten by the kissing bug?