CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Kissing bugs have been spotted recently in Georgia and Alabama, but have yet to show themselves in Missouri.
The bugs are not new to America, having been seen across the lower half of the United States, but public health officials in Cape Girardeau say they have no reports of the bugs in the county.
By themselves the insects are not deadly, but it is the parasite they can carry that makes contact with them sometimes deadly.
Chagas disease is caused by the Trypansoma cruzi (T. cruzi) parasite.
The disease is mainly found in South American countries and Mexico.
They are called kissing bugs because they are known to bite their victim's face while they sleep.
The C.D.C. says the infection is actually caused by fecal matter the bugs leave on the skin when they bite.
When the matter is rubbed into the bite, eyes or mouth it can get into the body's blood stream causing infection.
Health officials at The Mayo Clinic say the Chagas brings on flu like symptoms, however there are a few that stand out.
- Swelling at the infection site, usually on the face.
- Body Aches
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Enlargement of your liver or spleen
Cape Girardeau's Department of Public Health says symptoms could be dormant for up to 20 years.
The World Health Organization says the best way to prevent coming into contact with the insects is through vector control.
The pests can be found:
- Near pet resting areas
- In areas of rodent infestation
- In and around beds and bedrooms, especially under or near mattresses or night stands
To keep these pests from inside of your home, you must:
- Sealing cracks and gaps around windows, walls, roofs, and doors
- Removing wood, brush, and rock piles near your house
- Using screens on doors and windows and repairing any holes or tears
- If possible, making sure yard lights are not close to your house (lights can attract the bugs)
- Sealing holes and cracks leading to the attic, crawl spaces below the house, and to the outside
- Having pets sleep indoors, especially at night
- Keeping your house and any outdoor pet resting areas clean, in addition to periodically checking both areas for the presence of bugs
If you find one of these bugs it's important to trap it in a jar or container right away.
Normal bug pesticides will not kill the insects, and The CDC suggests to drown it in rubbing alcohol or freeze it.