In light of the recent events,
The Kissing Bug (Panstrongylus geniculatus) is a member of the Assassin Bug family Reduviidae. These insects get their name from the location of their bite, which are usually the lips. Kissing bugs feed mostly on the blood of vertebrates, but the ones that feed on human blood can carry serious disease. In South American countries, these little critters are the main vectors for a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi which causes Chagas Disease.
An interesting fact about T. cruzi is that it is not passed from saliva to blood like many other disease spreading vectors (i.e. mosquitoes), but rather through the Kissing Bugs feces. These parasites crawl their way into the wound made from the bite. Soon after the parasite enters the wound, the site of infection becomes enlarged and swollen. Other symptoms include: fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. You may think that this is as bad as it gets, but unfortunately this disease can lay dormant inside you for years and is incurable. When this nasty disease finally does reemerge, the symptoms are much worse and usually cause severe heart damage and malformation of the intestines.
Though the Kissing Bug really doesn’t have any attachment to Valentine’s Day, I just thought its name was appropriate for the occasion. So now you may be wondering what the Kissing Bug and T. cruzi have to do with
As I said before, there is no cure for this disease so prevention is important. So if you even have the urge to do some traveling around South America, be sure to take a mosquito net when camping outdoors. Insecticides can only do so much to control their numbers and prevent the Kiss of Death.