First Discovery of Kissing Bugs in Delaware: Key Point

By: Nitin Singh

Initial Discovery Last July, a New Castle County resident found a kissing bug on their pillow while getting ready for bed. Three months later, they found another similar bug in their kitchen. 

Chagas Disease Vector Kissing bugs are vectors of a parasite that causes Chagas disease, leading to serious heart problems if untreated. 

Species Identified University of Delaware entomologists identified both insects as Triatoma sanguisuga, carrying the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. 

Researcher’s Warning "It’s not surprising that it was infected," said Jennifer K. Peterson, a UD assistant professor. "It’s a wake-up call that this bug needs to be studied." 

Global Impact Chagas disease affects 6-7 million people worldwide, causing flu-like symptoms initially and severe heart issues over time.

Transmission Risk Kissing bugs transmit the parasite through their excrement. While the risk is low, repeated exposure increases chances of infection. 

High Infection Rate Studies in other U.S. regions show 30-60% of kissing bugs are infected with T. cruzi. 

Historical Presence Kissing bugs are likely native to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, existing for thousands of years but understudied in these regions.

Public Health Gap The homeowner tested negative for Chagas disease after months, highlighting a gap in public health awareness and response. 

Future Research Goals Peterson aims to create resources like an app or public awareness campaign to help people quickly get information and assistance if they encounter kissing bugs. 

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