Are bed bugs worse than we thought?

Written By: Dr. Mike Merchant, Urban Entomologist and Professor, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Bed bugs are trouble. They drink our blood. They soil our homes with their feces and cast skins. They keep us awake at night and add stress to our already stressed out lives. And they’re revolting to most people.

Until now, if there was one positive thing that could be said about bed bugs, it might be that they haven’t been found to carry communicable disease. The impact of bed bugs seemed mainly to come down to sleepless nights and the economic sting of pest control expenses. Continue reading

You should kiss and tell about this: Kissing bugs and Chagas disease webinar

Join the Environmental Protection Agency to learn about the Triatominae – commonly known as kissing, conenose, or assassin bugs – that transmit the parasite that causes Chagas disease in humans. These bugs feed on blood during the night and are called kissing bugs because they prefer to bite humans around the mouth or eyes. Loyola University’s Dr. Patricia Dorn and University of Arizona Department of Medicine’s Dr. Stephen Klotz will describe kissing bugs, Chagas disease, their importance in the U.S., and the steps you can take to prevent being bitten. Your participation will bring you up-to-date on the latest research and strategies to protect yourself from kissing bugs and Chagas disease. Continue reading

FDA approves first U.S. treatment for Chagas disease

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday that it has granted accelerated approval for the nation’s first treatment for Chagas disease, a parasitic infection caused by Trypanosoma cruzi spread by kissing bugs that has increasingly been found in the United States, especially in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley area.

The drug benznidazole, made by Chemo Research, SL, of Madrid, is approved for use in children ages 2 to 12 years old who have Chagas disease. Its safety and efficacy were shown in two placebo-controlled clinical trials in children 6 to 12 years old. An additional study in kids ages 2 to 12 helped set dosing recommendations. Stomach pain, rash, decreased weight, and headache were among the most common adverse reactions, and the drug was associated with some serious risks, including skin reactions, nervous system effects, and bone marrow depression.  Continue reading

UK entomologist discusses kissing bug, impact on Kentucky

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

The kissing bug may sound like a virus that plagues the protagonist of a romantic comedy, but in fact, these insects are real, and one species does occur in Kentucky. These blood-feeding insects have received a lot of media attention due to the potential health effects of their bites in the southwestern United States. University of Kentucky extension entomologist Lee Townsend recently discussed what Kentuckians need to know about the insect.

“A species of kissing bug lives in Kentucky, but the insect is not commonly seen. It occurs in wooded areas where it lives in the dens of various animals,” said Townsend, a faculty member in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “At UK, we have only occasionally received adults that were captured from inside homes, usually near or in wooded areas. Few bites have been reported. Kissing bugs will fly to outdoor lights, especially in the fall, and some will found ways inside.” Continue reading

Kissing bugs and Chagas disease

From the NC State University Plant Disease and Insect Clinic blog

By Matt Bertone, NC State University

News reports out of Texas, and now North Carolina, have been stirring up fears about “deadly” insects and a lesser known, but potentially serious illness: Chagas disease. Most people in the United States have never heard of this malady, yet it affects millions of people every year…in Central and South America.

The vast majority of Chagas disease cases are from rural areas in the New World tropics. Cases in the United States are rare, and most have been diagnosed from people who traveled here from outside the country. In fact there are at present only seven verified cases of natively-infected (termed “autochthonous”) Chagas in the United States since 1955, and none of these was from North Carolina (see Reference 2). To put this in perspective, malaria — a mosquito transmitted protozoan disease often thought of as exotic — has been recorded as autochthonous 63 times since 1957. Continue reading

Chagas disease is in Texas and spreading

State health officials tell NBC 5 Investigates Kissing Bugs have infected at least a dozen Texans with a parasite that causes Chagas disease, a disease typically found in the tropics.

See the video and the accompanying story at NBC5 in Dallas

Texas A&M entities helping understand, monitor Chagas disease

To keep both animals and humans protected from Chagas disease, Texas A&M University System entities have been studying the parasite-host-vector interaction at sites in South Central Texas.

Chagas is the common name for a disease transmitted by insects and animals that can cause severe symptoms, even death, in humans. It is responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths annually in Latin American countries, according to the World Health Organization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 8 to 11 million people throughout Latin America have the disease, the majority of whom do not even realize they are infected.

Continue reading