'Kissing Bug' Disease Prompts Growing Concern in US
300K likely have Chagas disease, little-known in the US
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jul 26, 2014 3:13 PM CDT
The "kissing bug" can transmit Chagas disease.   (Wikimedia Commons/Fernando Ot?lora Luna)

(Newser) – Some 8 million people have Chagas disease, a life-threatening illness passed to humans by "kissing bugs," or triatomines, living in Latin America. In the US, few people know about the disease—but the CDC figures that some 300,000 people may be infected here. In countries like Bolivia, which has the highest rate of Chagas in the world, it's standard practice to screen expectant mothers for the disease, since they could pass it on to their children. But in the US, doctors rarely think to check for the illness, which can cause heart or colon problems years down the line that, left untreated, can kill.

But awareness is growing, especially in places like Virginia, which one doctor suggests could be "ground zero" for the illness in the US, the Atlantic reports. The state has more Bolivians than any other, and dozens of cases have cropped up in the region. Infants and new cases can potentially be cured, but people with chronic cases may face eventual heart failure or brain inflammation. Yet "most people can go years without having symptoms," an expert tells WTOP. About 11,000 people per year die of the disease, but its association with immigration and poverty may be preventing widespread awareness, activists say. (The disease, which may have contributed to Charles Darwin's death, has been called the "new AIDS of the Americas" and costs the US economy $900 million a year.)

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Jul 28, 2014 1:44 AM CDT
...no signs or symptoms?....no explanation on what the bug is attracted to in the way of environment? ....well, since I don't go around kissing bugs but killing them, am I safe from this disease ridden insect????
Jul 27, 2014 10:53 AM CDT
Yada, yada, yada. And with all the whining on this page people seem to forgot that Europeans wiped out millions just by coming into contact with people.
Mesha forever young
Jul 27, 2014 5:54 AM CDT
Well they don't assimilate anyway..They want to come here but they don't want to be Americans..So stay as far away from them as possible they don;t like you anyway..and get a net scoop up all the bugs you can fine that you don't recognize as american Citizens and drop them in none assimilating Law breaking Illegal Aliens Yards!!!