Kissing Bug Chagas Disease: ‘Kissing bug’ infects 300,000 people.

A kissing bug, known as the ‘silent killer’, has infected 300,000 people in the United States with Chagas Disease with sufferers at risk of heart failure and stroke.

The insect earns its ‘kissing bug’ name from its tendency to bite people on the face near their mouths, which can lead to Chagas disease with infections spread orally from kissing people to sharing utensils and crockery and resulting on chronic heart conditions.

The insect also known by its scientific name of Trypanosoma cruzi, carries a parasitic disease named Chagas, which can cause chronic heart disease in one in three of those affected.

The bug was first detected in Brazil and has now infected over 10million people worldwide.

However, the disease itself is not spread through the bits of an insect – but rather by infected faeces laid by the bug being absorbed by skin or human eyes.

Triatomine insects are mostly found in Central and South America, with the American Heart Association (AHA) estimating around 300,000 people have been infected by the disease in the US alone.

People who show symptoms of the infection suffer from heart failure, stroke, life threatening ventricular arrhythmias and even cardiac arrest.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federal agency under the US Department of Health, say that if not treated quickly, around 30 percent of those infected with Chagas can develop serious conditions.

But around 60 to 70 percent of those infected with the bug do not develop symptoms, which led to its nickname of ‘the silent killer’. Travellers and residents of the endemic countries are at a low risk.

The AHA says the Chagas could be become more common – and said doctors in the US and Europe need to focus more energy on preventing the silent killer.

The Texas-based A&M Chagas research team, behind the research supplied to the AHA, said: “Transmission through these routes is a global problem and can occur wherever infected individuals reside.”

The first reported case of Chagas in Europe was in 1981 and ever since then, sporadic cases have been detected in different European countries.


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