The “Kissing Bug” is all over the news of late. Sightings of the bugs and fears about its potential harm to humans have the alarms being sounded from all over.
Is the Kissing Bug Dangerous?
The “Kissing Bug” is scientifically known as Triatomine Bug. Not the easiest name to roll off the tongue so obviously we’ve come up with a ‘fun’ name. The kissing bug is a rare find in the southern US, but it has been present for a number of years.
The kissing bug does present a real health danger to humans as it can transmit Chagas Disease. The kissing bug will bite a human or animal and leave a fecal deposit behind where the germs from their poop can contain the Chagas Disease. The Center for Disease Control advises that the likelihood of this happening is rare, but it is a possibility.
Chagas Disease is more known in Central and South America, so much so that it is considered a public health concern. The kissing bug does feed on blood, so it will seek out animals or humans. Substandard housing and closer proximity to nesting wildlife are generally reasons given for Chagas Disease to be more of a hazard in Central and South America. In the United States, the housing is such that it is more difficult for the kissing bug to the home.
Chagas Disease is a serious health concern in that create flu-like symptoms and then escalate to develop a rapid heart rate and cause death. Those are the extreme cases, often times the Chagas Disease stops with the flu-like symptoms.
What To Do With Kissing Bug?
If you notice that you have a kissing bug in your home, or around your home, then you will want to get rid of it/them. Traditional consumer pesticides are not effective in getting rid of the kissing bugs, so you will want to consult a pest control professional. If you believe the bug is an isolated occurrence you can remove them and move along to preventative measures.
If you are worried about the kissing bug but have not seen one, then preventative measures are similar to other pests. Keeping the perimeter of your house clean and clear of debris and places to access your home (cracks, open windows, etc.) are a good start to keeping the kissing bug out of your home. If you live near the woods (which many of us do) and you know of wildlife nesting nearby then you may have a higher concern for the bug. Equally, if you have pets that sleep outside then you will want to make sure their bedding areas are cleaned up regularly to possibly disturb the bug’s nesting area.
Bottom line is that the triatomine bug is one of the rareest bugs to show up in and around your home. Many sightings are confused with similar bugs that do not pose a threat to humans. If you do spot the bug in your home you will want to take appropriate action.
The Center for Disease Control has a helpful one-page PDF with more information about Chagas Disease: Download Chagas Disease Information Sheet