Warmer Temperatures May Attract Disease Carrying Kissing Bugs

By Courtney Burris | cburris@krbc.tvg

Published 03/21 2014 06:04PM

Updated 03/21 2014 07:05PM

Kissing bugs are common in Central America and the Southwest portion of the United States.

According to Associate Professor of Biology at ACU, John Xu, Kissing Bugs are "a very common group of insects and they usually will bite people at night and close to the mouth region, that is why they are called kissing bugs."

Kissing bugs are a major public health problem in Central American countries, but experts say climate changes will keep them coming closer to the Big Country.

According to Professor Xu, "Of course you need to consider the humidity and other environmental factors, but in general, the warmer the weather, the higher the chance for us to get more kissing bugs."

Kissing bugs can carry Chagas disease, which can be difficult to detect because of the long incubation period. "Some patients will develop symptoms up to thirty years later, but other patients probably will show symptoms before that."

While there are no reported cases of Chagas disease in Abilene now, these bugs are something to watch out for. Xu explains, "So the risk is always there, that is why it is important for us to realize the risk and keep collecting insects and monitoring the insect population."

At this point, there is no vaccine for the Chagas disease, however, keeping a clean yard and repairing holes in walls and screens are a few ways to keep these disease spreading insects away.

For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control site.

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