It has a tendency to bite near the mouth and eyes, which is how the kissing bug got its name, and its bite can be deadly.
The American Heart Association recently released a statement how the parasite is spreading outside of Latin America and into the United States.
“It comes out at night when you’re sleeping then has a tendency to bite the children on the face, then when this insect bites, then it defecates,” said Dr. Jeffrey Brown, an entomologist.
Once that happens, it releases a parasite into the victims causing Chagas disease.
Chagas starts off with immediate symptoms including fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, rash and the most recognized sign swelling of the eyelid on the side of the face near the bite wound.
But years later is when things can get worse.
“When it’s a chronic condition it can cause cardiac complications and intestinal complications so it might be dormant in the person and then years after it might show up,” said Raquel Castillo, Lead Epidemiologist for Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services.
The bugs mostly live outdoors, but do make their way into homes. They prefer to live in cracks or holes, beneath porches under cement, rocks, brush, wood piles and more.
Although the bug and disease are spreading throughout the United States, including in Texas, the Cameron County Health Department believes residents don’t have to worry about it too much.
“Actually here in Cameron County we don’t see if often, usually if we do see it is when people travel to South and Central America,” Castillo said.
The last case of Chagas in the Cameron County was reported last year when the victim traveled.
The department encourages residents who experience symptoms from any vector born illness to visit their health care provider immediately.
According to the American Heart Association, the disease has been reported in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.