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‘Kissing Bug’ Brings Disease To Texas

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A woman sleeps in her bed. (credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

A woman sleeps in her bed. (credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A public health hazard has arrived in the Lone Star State: a bug carrying a parasite that can cause potentially fatal heart and digestive problems. The bug contains a deadly parasite known as T-cruzi that causes Chagas disease.

The insect is commonly known as the kissing bug. It’s about the size of a penny and is indigenous to Central and South America.

Thus far, there are seven confirmed reports of the bug in Wichita Falls.

“With these bugs you need to make sure that you’re house is sealed properly. It’s not all about putting the chemical down. It’s also about making sure your house is safe,” said exterminator Michael Askew.

Kissing bugs are blood-suckers, similar to mosquitoes, ticks and tse-tse flies. They usually feed just after sunset. They are attracted to the light in our houses, the odors that we exhale, skin odors, and to the warmth of our bodies (typically while we’re asleep).

The noxious insects that enter a house will feed on household pets as well as humans. The carbon dioxide people exhale is attractive to the kissing bugs, as well as their body heat.

Many people have moderate to severe allergic reactions to the kissing bug. Reactions range from skin irritation and redness to anaphylactic shock requiring immediately medical attention.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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