A deadly bug has made it’s way to U.S. soil, and expert’s say it spreads a disease that is extremely fatal.
Researchers call the disease the “new Aids” because it’s symptoms are very hard to detect early on. Many also call it the “kissing bug” because it typically just attacks the face, but doctors are also calling it a silent killer.
It’s called the reduviid bug, and it is endemic in Latin America. However, it has recently infected 17 people in Houston, Texas, and this is likely only the beginning.
At the beginning of the disease, an infected person will likely experience fever, fatigue, body aches, rash, diarrhea and vomiting. This soon turns into an asymptomatic period of the disease, at which point very few parasites are found in the blood.
The reduviid bug carries a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which typically causes Chagas disease in humans. The disease can cause both heart and intestinal problems as time goes on.
“People don’t normally feel sick, so they don’t seek medical care, but it ultimately ends up causing heart disease in about 30 percent of those who are infected,” Nolan Garcia, an epidemiologist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who is an expert on Chagas disease in the U.S. said. “We think of Chagas disease as a silent killer.”
Last week, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) released a report warning that this disease has serious ramifications and that American healthcare workers lack the awareness to both diagnose and treat it. The parasite has already infected 7-8 million people worldwide, and since it’s so hard to diagnose, experts estimate there are more people infected in the U.S. already.
“We don’t know how often that is happening because there may be cases that are undiagnosed, since many doctors would not think to test their patients for this disease,” said Susan Montgomery of the CDC’s parasitic diseases branch.
Get the word out to your friends and family, Americans must be warned about this disease!