CDC: Blood-sucking 'kissing bug' confirmed in Delaware; Pennsylvania may be next

Dan Wing
April 24, 2019 - 10:48 am
kissing bug

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that a bug with a bite that can lead to serious cardiac and gastrointestinal complications, or even death if the person bitten goes without treatment, has been found in Delaware.

A family in Kent County reported to state health and agriculture officials that an odd insect bit their child's face in July 2018. The bug was then sent off to the CDC, where it was identified as Triatoma sanguisuga, also known as the "kissing bug."

It's known as the kissing bug because it usually bites humans on exposed skin, like the face.

The kissing bug can carry a parasite that can infect a person or animal's blood with Chagas disease, which presents itself in two phases. The initial acute phase, according to the World Health Organization, involves more mild symptoms, like fever, fatigue, rash, muscle pain, and vomiting. The chronic phase can lead to more serious conditions, like swollen liver, glands or eyelids, or even enlarged heart, esophagus or colon.

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Fortunately, the Delaware girl who was bitten by the blood-sucking bug did not get sick in any way. 

While Chagas disease is common in Latin America and still relatively rare in the U.S., the CDC said kissing bugs have now been found in about 30 states, including Pennsylvania. 

The insects have also been found along the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, meaning they may be crossing into the Garden State.