Kissing bugs, as the name suggests, like to bite human around their lips when they’re sleeping. They’re more dangerous than a funny looking insect.
They usually bite humans around their lips after which they defecate into the wound with their faeces. This harbours an infectious parasite, Trypanasoma cruzi.
This parasite, when enters the bloodstream, causes a life-threatening disease called Chagas disease. It is also known as Trypanosomiasis. It increases the death risk by two to three times when neglected!
"In every age category, people who had Chagas died more than people who didn't have Chagas. So if you're infected early in life, you should be treated," said author Dr Ligia Capuani, as quoted by CNN.
"People with Chagas had a two to three times higher risk of dying." said Dr Ester Cerdeira Sabino, co-author of the study.
The leading causes of death among those testing positive related to heart diseases, the most common symptom of an infection.
In the positive group, "there was 17 times the risk of cardio disease," Sabino shared.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 6 million people are estimated to be infected globally, with up to 30 percent of people chronically infected developing heart issues and 10 percent developing digestive or neurological symptoms.
The CDC estimates that there are 300,000 cases of Chagas in the United States, with most of those contracted in other countries.
Some patients experience acute, sudden symptoms during the first two months of infection, when parasite numbers in the blood are at their peak, including fever, fatigue, rash, diarrhea and occasionally swollen eyelids.
"What the parasite does to the body takes a long time; (it) slowly goes into the heart and destroys it. We have measured accurately the risk of death, (as) a lot of mortality data doesn't account for Chagas," Sabino added.
Two antiparasitic drugs are available to treat infection, benznidazole and nifurtimox, both of which are almost 100 percent effective if given soon after infection, according to the WHO. But it's effectiveness fades the longer someone is infected. Adverse effects also occur in up to 40 percent of patients, and treatment can take up to two months.
There is no vaccine against the disease. The best means of prevention is controlling the triatomine -- kissing -- bugs that spread it, either by use of insecticides or by improving homes, as the bugs reside in the cracks of the walls of poorly-constructed homes.
(With ANI Inputs)