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Assassin bug bite
September 14, 2011 7:21 pm
I looked up assassin bugs on your site and the info was helpful.  I just wonder why you do not warn people who get bitten that they require medical testing to make sure they did not get Chaga’s disease. It is a disease that can be fatal if not treated quickly. It is rare in the US only because few people get bitten but about 50% of the bugs carry the disease.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chagas_disease
http://insectsinthecity.blogspot.com/2009/03/study-on-risks-of-chagas-disease-in.html
Signature: Ralph Unger

Ralph,
Check your facts.  Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs are in the genus
Tritoma, the genus that carries the pathogens that cause Chagas Disease, and it is only one genus in a large and diverse family of insectsNot even half of the bugs in the genus, much less half of the bugs in the family, carry the pathogen that causes Chagas Disease.   The University of Texas at Arlington calls the insect bite the Kiss of Death, an allusion to the common name for these Triatomine Bugs.  The members of the genus Triatoma,  are commonly called Kissing Bugs in English and by a variety of colorful names in Spanish, and they can spread Chagas Disease.  The name Kissing Bug refers to their habit of biting people on or near the lips.   Though there are many Assassin Bugs that will bite humans if  they are carelessly handled or provoked, they are not interested in sucking blood, and they do not spread Chagas Disease.
Here are just a few of our previous postings that mention Chagas Disease:
2011/08/13/immature-kissing-bug/
2011/04/16/immature-blood-sucking-conenose/
2011/02/02/assassin-bug-possibly-bloodsucking-conenose/
2011/02/01/assassin-bug-from-guyana/
2010/12/15/eastern-bloodsucking-conenose-bug/
2010/04/05/immature-bloodsucking-conenose-bug/
2009/07/29/eastern-blood-sucking-conenose-bug-3/

Blood Sucking Conenose Bug from our archive


Thank you for the reply. If you do get bitten, There is a good chance that you can get the disease in Texas and the SW of the US.  This is a new problem that has recently surfaced because of the immigration from the south into the US.
From “Infection of Kissing Bugs with Trypanosoma cruzi, Tucson, Arizona,USA
“To our knowledge, almost no information has been collected during the last half-century on the incidence of infection by T. cruzi in triatomine bugs from Arizona (but see below). We found that 41.5% of the 164 collected bugs, most of which were T. rubida, were infected with T. cruzi, and that 63% of houses or sites where insects were collected had at least 1 specimen infected(in Arizona).  … For instance, 51% of triatomines (mostly T. gerstaeckeri) collected from several areas in Texas were infected (n = 241), with many insects found near human dwellings. ..Many cases of Chagas disease in the United States, however, may be overlooked because the early phase of the infection is often asymptomatic (9,16), and health professionals are largely unaware of this disease. In Arizona, humans may be at a greater risk for vectorial transmission of the disease than previously thought because human populations are rapidly expanding into habitats where infected triatomines (20–22) and wild mammalian reservoirs such as packrats, mice, armadillos, raccoons, and opossums (23–27) are plentiful. Chagas disease is actively transmitted in domestic cycles involving dogs in southern Texas (20,28), where >50% of triatomines collected inside or near the homes of persons were found to be infected with T. cruzi (19,20). Studies conducted many decades ago found that triatomines in California, Arizona, and New Mexico were also infected with T. cruzi (22–25,29).

Thanks for the followup Ralph.  It would also seem possible that a person might acquire Chagas Disease after being bitten in Central America.  Once infected, subsequent bites by Kissing Bugs not carrying the pathogen will infect the insects who might then pass the pathogen on to additional humans it bites. 

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