Texas residents need to be a little more careful about their health after recent reports of a new threat that will have even the most courageous cowboy trembling in their boots. Despite having a very friendly name, “kissing bugs” are no fun at all, causing an infection that could potentially kill you – and they have been popping up in counties all over the lone star state.
Kissing bugs get their name because they like to bit human faces and especially lips, typically only at night while they are sleeping. They leave behind a parasite that causes Chagas disease, a condition that has historically only been seen in the tropics but now is spreading like wildfire across Texas.
Chagas disease is hard to detect, shows a variety of symptoms and can be potentially deadly. At first, it seems like those who are infected are just suffering from a mild case of the flu. This transitions into a second, far more painful phase that inflicts up to 30% with heart issues and 10% with gastrointestinal distress.
The CDC has no approved treatment for the disease, only experimental drugs that are at best 85% effective – and even then, only when taken right after the infection takes hold. According to KXAS, the rise in infections is not due to an increased population of kissing bugs. Rather, the suburbs around Texas are simply expanding onto their land.
People across the United States are running into these bugs, which normally favor more tropical climates but have now invaded over 25 states.
To keep safe, the CDC now recommends:
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.