In general, bugs are pretty harmless. They freak some of us out but they are usually just pests. However, one particular insect is not just a nuisance. The bug is referred to as the “Kissing Bug” by some, but its other nickname is a lot more accurate: The Assassin Bug. This bug, scientifically known as Triatominae, is responsible for the spread of a very serious disease called Chagas Disease.
In southern states, hundreds of dogs have died from the parasitic disease that is carried by the Assassin Bug. Roughly 400 in Texas alone! Chagas Disease is caused by a parasite known as Trypanosoma Cruzi. The parasite is carried by the bug and is spread by its feces.
The bug feeds on blood, usually around the mouth and eyes of a pet while he or she is asleep. The disease is spread when the bug’s fecal matter gets into the bite or into a mucous membrane. It can also be transmitted if a dog eats the bug.
What makes Chagas so dangerous is that symptoms don’t usually appear until the disease is in its later stages, attacking the heart muscles, making it too late to treat. This can lead to heart failure and eventually death. At first, the symptoms may appear mild like the flu, which is when the pet needs immediate medical treatment. More severe symptoms may include significant swelling of the eyelids and anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock can cause asphyxiation, leading to death.
Triatominae can be found in almost every southern state and some are being reported in midwestern states as well. They are often found living under porches, in cracks between walls, under rocks, and in outdoor dog houses and chicken coups.
Chagas disease can affect humans as well. To learn more about the spread of the disease visit the CDC’s website.
The story, in the video below, took place when the disease was just making its way into the country. Please remember, if your dog is exhibiting signs of Chagas, take him or her to the vet immediately!
Please ‘SHARE’ to pass on this story to a friend or family member