Bug of the Month December 2015: Kissing Bugs in the News

Ed. Note:  Because of numerous recent Kissing Bug identification requests, and because Kissing Bugs are currently in the news, we decided to make our December Bug of the Month a Public Service message.

Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug or Kissing Bug
Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug or Kissing Bug

December 1, 2015 6:45 am
The News story is airing on NBC5 in the Dallas Texas area. They are having 1 out of 10 pets dying at this time from what they are calling the kissing bug.
FYI: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video/#!/investigations/video/Hidden-Threat–The-Kissing-Bug-and-Chagas-Disease/350851171
Signature: Anthony

Letter From our Archives
Subject: Is this beetle poisonous?
Location: Southern California
April 6, 2014 11:01 am
We found this bug in my daughters bed. For the past week, she has been waking up with horribly swollen and disfiguring bites that turn into oozing blisters within a few days. Any ideas what this is?
Signature: Thank you, Krishni

Western Conenose Bug
Western Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug

Dear Krishni,
This is not a beetle.  It is a species of Assassin Bug known as a Kissing Bug or Western Conenose Bug,
Triatoma protracta.  You can compare your individual to this image on BugGuide.  Though it is not a poisonous species, it is of some concern because they carry a pathogen known to cause Chagas Disease.  Chagas Disease is a much greater threat in the tropics than it is in the United States, but there is a possibility that your daughter might have contracted the protozoan that causes Chagas Disease.  According to BugGuide:  “Bite can cause severe allergic reaction in many humans. Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan. The most notorious vector is T. infestans, found in South America. The North American species are not normally thought to transmit the disease, though they can carry the parasite. (The North American species do not normally defecate at the site of the bite, which is what actually transmits the parasite–see Kissing bugs (Triatoma) and the skin [University of California eScholarship]. The CDC site says that rare vector-borne cases of Chagas disease have been noted in the so. US.”  You may want to contact the Center for Disease Control for additional information.

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