If you’re like most Americans, you probably have never heard of a disease called Chagas. The reason for this is quite simple, Chagas disease is primarily found in Central and South America, and until recently very few cases have existed in the United States.
But all of that is changing. As of 2018, there are more than 300,000 cases of Chagas disease identified in the US. The American Heart Association even put out a warning that Chagas disease has been and will continue to spread to more and more Americans.
But how exactly has this occurred? The answer may surprise you.
Chagas disease is actually caused by a parasite known as Trypanosoma cruzi (T cruzi) and this parasite is spread primarily through an insect vector. The particular insect pest primarily responsible for this spread is a beetle known as the triatonime, AKA the Kissing Bug.
What exactly are these Kissing Bugs? And are they a threat to me?
While the name “Kissing Bug” sounds pretty cute, the unfortunate truth is that this nickname comes from the tendency of triatomines to bite people on the face and neck when feeding. There are more than 11 identified species of triatomines active in the Southeast, and some experts are anticipating their population to grow in the coming years.
Like most parasitic pests, triatomines tend to feed on hosts at night while they are sleeping. For this reason, most feeding occurs around beds, couches, and other sleeping areas. While you might expect this to be the cause of Chagas spread, it is actually the excrement left behind by the triatomine that is typically infected with the T cruzi virus.
One of the reasons that Chagas is not very well known is that the disease fails to show symptoms in 60-70% of those infected. For this reason, people can be carriers of the disease without being aware. While Chagas is normally transmitted by triatomines, it can also be spread through contaminated food, water, and from pregnant mothers to their children.
While the disease is treatable, it is much easier to deal with early on. If the disease is left untreated, symptoms will become rapidly worse and it can even lead to death. Due to this, early detection is absolutely essential, and those who are concerned about possible exposure to T cruzi should seek medical attention.
But as scary as this disease sounds, is my family at risk from triatomines?
While kissing bugs are certainly spreading throughout the Southeast, they are still relatively rare. The truth is, most cases of triatomine infestation occur in substandard housing that lacks proper sealant and structural integrity to keep the pests out. If your home is in good repair and protected from pests you will be unlikely to encounter triatomines in your home. That said, Chagas disease is still a growing threat, and medical experts have advised that people remain cautious so as to avoid becoming infected.
While you are unlikely to encounter triatomines, other pests may be a threat to your home. If you are seeing signs of any kind of pest activity, your best option is to call in a licensed pest control professional to inspect and treat your home!
At Canton Termite and Pest Control, we have decades of experience dealing with pest and wildlife problems faced by residents all around Cherokee County! We employ a range of industry-leading treatment strategies that are designed to safely, effectively, and comprehensively eradicate pests from your home, regardless of the type and severity of the infestation!
So if you are in need of a knowledgeable, reliable pest control service, give us a call today at 770-479-1598! We will be happy to help in any way that we can!