The sometimes deadly "kissing bug" — a nocturnal, bloodsucking parasite that carries an inflammatory infectious disease — has been confirmed in dozens of U.S. states, including Georgia, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Chagas disease is spread by the triatomine bugs, which typically bite people in the face.
The CDC said in September the kissing bug was making its way north from South and Central America. If Chagas disease is left untreated, the infection is lifelong and can be life-threatening, the agency said. Most infected people don't experience symptoms, which can include fever, fatigue, aches, headache, rash and swelling at the site of transmission. But in severe cases, Chagas disease can lead to stroke or heart failure.
All that said, it's really not that easy to get Chagas from a triatomine bug, the CDC says. Here's why: The parasite is found in the bug feces, and infection typically occurs when the bug defecates on or near a person while feeding on his or her blood, typically when someone is sleeping. The fecal material gets rubbed into the bite wound or into the eye or mouth, and that's how the parasite enters the body.
Also, the CDC said, not all triatomine bugs are infected with the Chagas-causing parasite.
The map below shows where the kissing bug has been found or has the potential to be found.
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