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