Here’s another reason to stay in New York this holiday season — the “kissing bug” has now spread to 28 states.
Texas is the latest to report an outbreak of infections from the Latin American triatomine bug after the pest had been spotted in other southern and western states, including Georgia, Alabama and California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The creepy crawler resembling a cockroach gets its colorful nickname because it likes to bite around the lips and eyes of people when they are asleep. More than half of the bugs carry a parasite that can cause Chagas disease in humans, dogs and other mammals.
The good news? To actually pass on the disease, the bug not only needs to bite you, but then defecate into the gash. If left untreated, up to 30% of bite victims will develop chronic conditions such as difficulty breathing, heart and intestinal complications, and, in extreme cases, death.
There have been eight million cases in Latin America and South America because of poorly constructed rural homes, according to the CDC.
To prevent an outbreak, the CDC recommends:
Sealing cracks and gaps around windows, walls, roofs, and doors.
Removing wood, brush, and rock piles near your house.