Dangerous Insect Returns to Massachusetts
The dangerous 'kissing bug' has once again appeared in Massachusetts. What you need to know to keep your family and pets safe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued a warning across Massachuetts about the return of the potentially life-threatening 'kissing bug.'
The 'kissing bug' is also known as a chinch, cone-nose bug, walapai tiger and Mexican bed bug and it can pass a life-threatening parasite to humans and dogs.
The bugs are typically around until the first hard frost can kill them off, so having them already spotted in Massachusetts could means months of keeping an eye out to stay safe.
if you do find one DO NOT try to squish it
Look for long, dark-colored beetle-like bugs with black heads and yellow, red or orange stripes on their sides. 'Kissing bugs' also have a needle-like mouth that they use to pierce their prey.
And if you do see them...get rid of them.
The 'kissing bug' doesn't actually kiss you (of course), but it can bite you. That's not where the life-threatening illness can come from however.
It is actually the 'kissing bug's' feces that contain a parasite that causes the potentially life-threatening Chagas Disease.
Chagas Disease can often go unnoticed, but is a life-long illness that if left untreated can become deadly.
'Kissing bugs' can also pass Chagas to dogs
Symptoms often present as a regular cold; fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, and rash, but can also cause swelling of the liver, spleen and even eyelids depending on where the parasite entered the body.
Those with chronic Chagas can also develop heart issues and intestinal complications.
'Kissing bugs' can also pass Chagas to dogs, most commonly when dogs eat them.
Pets will experience fever, lethargy, cough, diarrhea, loss of appetite and abnormal heart rhythm as signs they may be infected.
These dangerous bugs are often found in attics, bedrooms, pet kennels and rats nests, so it's not just in the great outdoors that you may encounter one.
Not all 'kissing bugs' carry the Chagas parasite and not all 'kissing bugs' will bite.
But experts say if you do find one DO NOT try to squish it or handle it with your hands. It is the bugs' feces and urine that can make you sick, things so small you may not even notice them on your skin.
Instead try to coax it into a container of alcohol with a stick using gloved hands. You can also use bug spray to kill the insect, then toss the dead bug with gloves on or another hand covering.
And if you spot a kissing bug in your house, do a thorough cleaning.