Kiss of Death? - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Kiss of Death?

The potentially dangerous kissing bug is in Texoma.


These blood sucking insects can transmit Chagas disease, which can lead to heart failures and even paralysis.


So far there have been seven confirmed sightings of the bugs in Wichita County, while parts of Wilbarger County are flooded with the insects.


According to the CDC, 300,000 people and numerous animals are infected with Chagas disease from kissing bugs in the United States. But, not all kissing bugs carry Chagas disease, and according to experts, the risk is very low for someone to contract the disease. However, if you are bitten, there is one key thing to keep in mind.


"The most important thing they need to remember is to not scratch it," says David Shoop Jr, the Manager of Shoop's Texas Termite and Pest Control in Wichita Falls. "First go wash, and then after you wash, if that area begins to start swelling up really bad, then its probably best to get it checked out by a doctor."


The insects are called kissing bugs because they most commonly bite humans around the lips or the eye area.  


Those working out in the fields are most at risk of getting bitten. A kissing bug will attach to your clothes and come home with you, and then bite you while you sleep when they sense the carbon dioxide that you breathe out.


Shoop recommends people that do work in the fields wear insecticide with at least 25% deet, and has some advice to those who may see this pest.


"Get it checked by a professional, and if it is one, get your home treated," Shoop said.


Shoop also pointed out that there are many look a likes to the kissing bug, and getting rid of them isn't an easy task, as they are immune to many types of pesticides.  


Chagas disease is much more common in Mexico, where it causes 21,000 deaths a year. Shoop said that kissing bugs who have been in the U.S. most likely do not carry Chagas, while roughly 30% of the insects that have been brought up from farther south do.


Because of the recent explosion of kissing bugs in Texoma, Shoop will begin testing the bugs found in Wichita County to see if they carry Chagas disease next week.  


Dave Caulfield, Newschannel 6 

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