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