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What are kissing bugs?

ANSWER

Kissing bugs are blood-feeding insects that live in the southern and western United States, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. They don’t kiss. But they might bite you, probably while you sleep.

Most bites are harmless. Sometimes, though, they can cause allergic reactions or spread disease. Very rarely, they can lead to heart disease or sudden deaths. If they live where you do, here’s what you need to know.

SOURCES:

CDC: “Triatomine Bug FAQs,” “Parasites -- American Trypanosomiasis (also known as Chagas Disease).”

UpToDate: “Reactions to bites from kissing bugs (primarily genus Triatoma),” “Insect Bites.”

Mayo Clinic: “Chagas Disease.”

World Health Organization: “Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis).”

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: “Conenose or Kissing Bugs.”

Texas A&M University Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences: “Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease in the United States: A Brief Introduction,” “Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease in the United States: Found a Kissing Bug?” “Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease in the United States: FAQ.”

American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology: “Anaphylaxis.”

The University of Arizona: “UA Helps Community with Kissing-Bug Problem.”

Iowa State University: “American Trypanosomiasis.”

 

 

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner on December 21, 2017

SOURCES:

CDC: “Triatomine Bug FAQs,” “Parasites -- American Trypanosomiasis (also known as Chagas Disease).”

UpToDate: “Reactions to bites from kissing bugs (primarily genus Triatoma),” “Insect Bites.”

Mayo Clinic: “Chagas Disease.”

World Health Organization: “Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis).”

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: “Conenose or Kissing Bugs.”

Texas A&M University Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences: “Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease in the United States: A Brief Introduction,” “Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease in the United States: Found a Kissing Bug?” “Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease in the United States: FAQ.”

American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology: “Anaphylaxis.”

The University of Arizona: “UA Helps Community with Kissing-Bug Problem.”

Iowa State University: “American Trypanosomiasis.”

 

 

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner on December 21, 2017

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How is a kissing bug bite treated?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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