It seems like only yesterday that we were all in a panic about Ebola, and now there’s something else to worry about – Chagas disease.
The official name for Chagas disease is American trypanosomiasis. It’s an infection caused by a parasite, which results in skin inflammation and can lead to inflammation of the heart and the intestines. That’s not good. It’s transmitted by the “kissing bug,” a blood-sucking insect in the Triatominae family of creepy things.
Why should we worry about this? The “kissing bug” and Chagas disease were once thought to be confined to Mexico, Central, and South America, but researchers are finding that they’re spreading, especially in the southern and southwestern United States, according to an article on MedicineNet.com.
“The CDC, however, still believes most people with the disease in the United States were infected in Mexico, Central and South America,” the website notes.
The bugs are found throughout the southern half of the country, and feed on animals and people at night. In a pilot study at Baylor University in Texas, some 17 study participants tested positive for the parasite that causes Chagas disease. And in addition to the bite of the “kissing bug,” Chagas can also be transmitted through the blood of an infected human.