Kissing Bug: The Silent Killer You Must Know About!

People generally fear heart disease, various types of cancer, tumors and in the string of similar diseases. However, another type of disease is widely spreading from Bolivia and Spain into the Americas like a rapid wildfire.

Chagas is a deadly disease which is attained by way of an insect bite. The official name of the insect which is responsible for spreading this disease is the Triatoma infestans.

This nocturnal bug, often called the “assassin bug” infects its victim with a parasite. In America, we often refer to the bug as the “kissing bug” since it has been known to primarily bite a person near their mouth. Dogs can also be infected by this disease.

The parasite given off from the bite lives within the digestive system, muscular fibers of the heart or peripheral nervous system. In the early stages of infection, there is little to no side effects which makes it nearly impossible to detect. However, the parasite can cause damage to the organs and ultimately lead to premature death, if left untreated.

There are two types of Chagas symptoms observed in dogs which are acute and chronic. Dogs acquire Chagas through direct contact or by eating the feces and mucus membranes from an infected host such as possum and raccoon. Symptoms are as follows:

For acute (typically diagnosed in dogs 2 years old or below)

  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Walking difficulties
  • Rapid body jerks, seizures
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Congestive heart failure (left and right-sided)

 

Chronic (typically diagnosed in older dogs)

  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)

 

Between 40,000-80,000 Latin Americans in Spain either have the parasite or the disease. Unfortunately about 90 percent do not even know they have it. Even though the “kissing bug” does not live in all parts of the world, Chagas can be spread in other ways.

Read to the next page to find out how.

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