Parasite spreading ‘kissing bug’ may already be in New Jersey: expert

1010 WINS Newsroom
April 26, 2019 - 1:15 pm
Triatomines aka the 'kissing bug'

Centers For Disease Control And Prevention


TRENTON, N.J. (1010 WINS) -- And now a warning about the 'kissing bug'.

It's a bloodsucking creature known to scientists as triatomines. They tend to bight around the eyes and mouth.


The problem is that they can transmit a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi which can cause Chagas disease which results in very serious cardiac and gastrointestinal problems.

The CDC said it's concerned that the bug could be a problem this summer and recommend that you seal cracks and gaps around windows, walls, doors, and roofs. They also say it's not a good idea to let pets sleep outside.

A little girl was bitten in Delaware last summer, raising concerns that the bugs could have made their way north from their usual stomping grounds in the southern U.S., Mexico, Central and South America.

The bugs have been seen in Pennsylvania, and experts say there's a chance that they're already in New Jersey.

“It very well may be in New Jersey,” said Dr. Vivian Bellofatto, professor and interim chair of microbiology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Bellofatto says temperature changes are likely behind the spread of the bug.

“It’s spreading to northern states as they get warmer, overall,” she said. “Because our winters are less cold and our summers are hotter, the bugs are much more comfortable in the mid-Atlantic states.”

Not everyone who is bitten by the bug will become sick, those who do will see symptoms develop after a few weeks.

Symptoms include swelling above the eye, fever, body aches, and swelling at the bite mark.

The bugs are typically found under porches or rocky structures, cement, in rock, wood, brush piles, or bark, in outdoor dog houses or kennels, and in chicken coops or houses.

Experts suggest seeing a doctor as soon as possible if you believe you've been bitten.

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