As if the world doesn’t have enough to worry about this summer with things like West Nile, Lyme disease, and various allergies to insects we may not even know exist, here’s another one to add to the list. A ‘new’ disease is making the rounds in Texas known as ‘Chagas Disease’ and so far it’s claimed the lives of 400 dogs in the southern state.
Chagas Disease comes from a tiny little insect known as the kissing bug, or better yet known in other parts of the world as the assassin bug. The assassin bug is attracted to moisture around the mouth and eyes, primarily in regard to animals but it’s also a risk to children (this is rare, but still possible).
The assassin bug carries a parasite known as the Trypanosoma Cruzi which causes American Trypanosomiasis aka Chagas Disease. Unfortunately, Chagas Disease is a silent killer. Symptoms of the disease don’t have a tendency to show up until it is far too late.
Prevention is key when it comes to situations like these. It’s important to note that if a dog or a child gets bitten by an assassin bug, you should take them to the hospital ASAP. Transmission of the disease occurs when the fecal material gets rubbed onto the bite wound or into a mucus membrane. Dogs may also contract the disease by eating the bug, so keep an eye out for that too.
Symptoms of Chagas Disease typically include massive swelling of the eyelids, anaphylactic shock, or common summer flu symptoms. If not treated, these symptoms will become more severe over time and more painful.
These assassin bugs are commonly found in forested areas, outdoor dog houses/tents, chicken coops, under cement or rocks, in cracks between walls, and under porches. Their presence has been reported in every southern U.S state and across most midwestern states.
These bugs have a tendency to bite unsuspecting children who are simply playing near their natural habitat. Be sure to keep watch of all children and animals if you’re living in or heading to the midwest or southern states.
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