A Disease Doctors Call A ‘Silent Killer’ Is Spread By Bugs That Bite Your Face In The Night — And It’s Emerging In The US

Friday, November 7, 2014
By Paul Martin

Philip Ross, International Business Times
Nov. 7, 2014

A deadly illness from abroad has made its way to the U.S. – but it’s not Ebola. Several cases of “kissing bug” disease, known formally as Chagas disease, have recently been identified in Texas, according to researchers gathered Tuesday at the annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in New Orleans.

The Washington Post reports that health officials found 17 Houston residents who had been infected with Chagas, a disease native to Latin America that is spread to humans through contact with the parasitic triatomine bug, or so-called kissing bug. The tiny insect feeds on human blood by biting people’s faces during the night. It carries a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes the disease.

Additionally, researchers found that one in every 6,500 blood donors in Texas tested positive for exposure to the parasite – about 50 times higher than Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. “We were astonished to not only find such a high rate of individuals testing positive for Chagas in their blood, but also high rates of heart disease that appear to be Chagas-related,” Nolan Garcia, an epidemiologist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston whose research focused on Chagas disease in the U.S., said in a statement.

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