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New kissing bug guide helps with fight against Chagas disease

from School Pest News, Texas A&M AgriLife

A guide to help battle a potentially fatal disease transferred by a blood-sucking insect called the kissing bug has been published by a task force led by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

While it may not make good bedtime reading, the new image-based guide from the Texas Chagas Task Force could keep you from falling victim to a disease caused by a parasite that the kissing bug carries. The parasite is Trypanosoma cruzi (T.cruzi), and the disease it causes is called Chagas disease. It is dubbed the silent killer because its symptoms are so elusive. If caught early, Chagas disease is treatable but if left undetected and untreated, it can eventually lead to problems such as heart failure, an enlarged heart or stroke. 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

Research Assistant position open at Texas A&M AgriLife

A Research Assistant position is available in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University. The successful candidate will join a research lab studying diverse vector-borne disease systems. Duties will involve molecular diagnostics for mosquito-borne viruses and other pathogens, mosquito and kissing bug colony care and experiments, and general laboratory management. Continue reading

Remain Calm: Kissing Bugs Are Not Invading The US

Authored by Gwen Pearson. This article was first appeared on WIRED, 12.03.15.

CHILL. KISSING BUGS ARE not invading North America. They’ve been here for at least 12,000 years, probably longer. The link between Chagas disease and kissing bugs (Triatoma) is real, and Chagas disease is a serious, untreatable disease you do not want to acquire. But nothing other than a recent burst of media attention is, well, news.

I talked to Dr. Sue Montgomery, leader of the epidemiology team in the CDC Parasitic Diseases Branch, as well as some key US researchers on Chagas disease. I also checked with several Insect Diagnostic Clinics around the US. Everyone agreed: There is no evidence that new infections of Chagas are increasing in the US, or that the insects that transmit the disease have increased or changed their range. The disease itself is extremely rare; fewer than 40 human infections have occurred in the US since 1955. 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