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Confirmation Of Girl Bitten On Face By Blood-Sucking 'Kissing Bug' Sparks New CDC Warning

Triatoma sanguisuga
Triatoma sanguisuga Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The “kissing bug,” a disease-carrying insect which is known to bite people on their mouths and faces, has made its way to the East Coast.

In July last year, a family from Kent County in Delaware contacted the state’s Division of Public Health and Department of Agriculture to request assistance in identifying a bug that had bitten their child’s face.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the parents were concerned about possible disease transmission from the insect. 

In a statement released on Friday, April 19, the CDC confirmed that the bug was identified as Triatoma sanguisuga, also known as a “kissing bug,” due to the insect's predilection for biting humans on the face, and issued a new alert about the dangerous bug.

The CDC said that the home where the child was bitten was an “older single-family home near a heavily wooded area. A window air conditioning unit was located in the bedroom where the bite occurred (and) the family reported no recent travel outside the local area.”

Triatoma sanguisuga is known to carry Chagas disease, which can be fatal. This is the first confirmed identification of Triatoma sanguisuga in Delaware. Chagas disease can cause serious cardiac and gastrointestinal complications. CDC estimates that approximately 300,000 people with Chagas live in the country, and most were infected in parts of Latin America where the disease is found. 

“Precautions to prevent house triatomine bug infestation include locating outdoor lights away from dwellings such as homes, dog kennels, and chicken coops and turning off lights that are not in use,” the CDC noted. “Homeowners should also remove trash, wood, and rock piles from around the home and clear out any bird and animal nests from around the home. Cracks and gaps around windows, air conditioners, walls, roofs, doors, and crawl spaces into the house should be inspected and sealed.

“Chimney flues should be tightly closed when not in use and screens should be used on all doors and windows. Ideally, pets should sleep indoors, especially at night, and outdoor pet resting areas kept clean.”

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