WVEL News/Health Scope Now: “The Kissing Bug”

(Photo By Flickr User Greg Schechter)


Many people around the state are talking about something called, “The Kissing Bug.”

It’s an insect that’s made its way from South America all the way north to Illinois.

“The kissing bug – it can have an organism called T. Cruzi, which can cause Chagas disease,” State Public Health Veterinarian Connie Austin said.

Chagas disease can cause chronic illness, cardiac problems and can even be deadly.

The CDC came out with a map showing the bug migrating north into states including Illinois. However, it’s not something keeping state health officials up at night.

“They even have reports way back to the 1800s,” Austin said. “So it’s been here, but it’s just not very commonly found and doesn’t have the parasite, that we know of, that causes Chagas disease.”

State health officials don’t even track the bug and won’t unless doctors start seeing this disease.

“People in Illinois probably don’t have to worry about it in their homes because we have very good homes,” Austin said. “Usually there’s not a lot of ways for bugs to get in and out of houses here. So we don’t worry about it as much here as you would in Latin America.”

If a kissing bug bites you, you’ll know it. Symptoms of Chagas include an infected bite mark, fever, swollen lymph nodes and stomach pain.

To keep yourself safe from the kissing bug and all bugs, make sure there are no cracks where they can enter your home, use screens for windows and doors and turn off outside lights that can attract them.

(Information Courtesy Of KHQA-TV)