The deadly ‘kissing bug’ is now in Missouri and Illinois; invading other states

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - It's called the "kissing bug" and it's bite can be the kiss of death if left untreated.

The CDC is warning Americans about a deadly Latin American disease is making its way through the southern part of the United States, including Missouri and Illinois. It's called the "Kissing Bug" but it's not as cute as it sounds. The bug carries a parasite that causes Chagas disease.

The disease once thought to be limited to Mexico, Central and South America is now infecting about 300,000 people in the lower half of the US. It is important to note, most of the people living with the disease were infected while in Central or South America.

Doctors say the kissing bug is a silent killer and if not treated, the infection can prove fatal. Symptoms include pain in the gut or swelling where the bug bit the person. Experts say a person can go as long as 20 years before the parasite takes it toll.

If you find a kissing bug, don't try to touch or squash it. Instead seal it in a container and take it to the health department.

 

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They are typically found in the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America (as far south as southern Argentina). The map below details triatomine occurrence by U.S. state.

Various Triatomine Bugs in all Life Stages

Various Triatomine Bugs in all Life Stages