Kissing bugs may sound all sweet and innocent but they’re anything but that. The nasty little things are actually parasitic and even deadly in some cases because they spread Chagas disease to both humans and animals.
More and more people in South America and the US are increasingly contracting the once rare parasitic infection and it’s now estimated that over 300,000 people are currently infected in the US alone.
In the state of Texas about 400 dogs have died as a result of Chagas, as dogs are among the most susceptible to the disease. (source)
Signs of a Kissing Bug Infestation
Acute-phase symptoms of Chagas disease(kissing bug disease) may be swelling and/or redness at the skin infection site (termed chagoma), rash, swollen lymph nodes, fever, head and body aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, liver and/or spleen enlargement, and the Romaña sign.
Chronic-phase symptoms and signs of Chagas disease may be irregular heartbeats, EKG changes, palpitations, fainting (syncope), cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, shortness of breath (dyspnea), emphysema, stroke, sudden death, chronic abdominal pain, chronic constipation, dilated colon, and difficulty swallowing. (source)
There are several steps in preventing kissing bugs.
The first step is to keep them from entering the home. Make sure that exterior doors close tightly. Replace missing or damaged weather stripping. Repair any damaged screens on all windows, crawlspace vents and attic vents. Caulk around openings for utility lines, plumbing pipes and cables. Repair cracks in the foundation that would allow insects to enter.
Remove any nests of squirrels or other wild animals. Move firewood piles away from the house. Change porch lights to “bug light” bulbs. Check pet bedding often. Inspect pets to be sure they do not have these bugs in their fur.
Insecticide applications on the outside can help keep kissing bugs from entering the home. Your local pest control professional can select the appropriate insecticides according to the situation. (source)
‘Kissing Bug’ Infections Are Growing In Texas, Health Officials Say – Newsy