Health officials have revealed that dozens of people in Texas have been infected with what is known as the “kissing bug” disease.
According to The Epoch Times, the Chagas disease is spread through a tiny parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is known as the kissing bug. They earned this monicker because they bite people on the thin skin around their eyes and mouth, usually while they are sleeping.
“But the bug’s bite isn’t what causes the infection — it’s their poop. If a bug bites an infected animal or person, it becomes a carrier of T. cruzi, which is passed through its feces,” Web MD explained. “The next time the bug feeds on a person, it leaves droppings on them, which can enter that person’s body through their eyes, nose, mouth, or the wound from the bite itself.”
People can also get the disease by eating the meat of an infected animal or from a blood transfusion or organ transplant from an infected person.
Texas health officials are lamenting that not enough is being done to warn people about this infection.
“Many Texas researchers are concerned, but statements from the federal government seem to barely acknowledge people are being infected here,” they said, adding that the disease is rarely seen outside the tropics. The CDC has reportedly said they want to do more research on the bug before they go public.
“I think it’s a question that needs a lot more study and the group out of Baylor in Houston is looking at exactly that. What are the risks for acquiring Chagas disease in Texas,” Dr. Susan Montgomery commented.
Symptoms of Chagas disease occur in two phases. The first is a rash, a sore, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite, swollen eyelids, and flu-like symptoms. Though these symptoms fade after a few months, the parasite remains in the body.
The next phase, however, can be deadly, especially for weaker people. In this phase, the parasite can cause big heart problems, like heart failure.
The disease is treated with two drugs, enznidazole and nifurtimox, which are best taken soon after infection. Ironically, these drugs are only available through the CDC.