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Entomologists from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Entomology identified, for the first time in the state, as species of kissing bug.

A report from KLKN-TV's ABC 8 described the "kissing bug" as the common term for a group of bugs also known as triatomines.

They are blood-sucking insects typically found in the Southern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America during warm months.

This kissing bug species discovered in Nebraska has been classified as the Eastern blood-sucking conenose. It is approximately ¾ inches in length with a blackish, flattened, and elongated body. Found on the insect's abdomen's sides are reddish-orange markings.

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Science Times - Kissing Bugs That Cause Chagas Disease Detected in Nebraska; Nebraskans Asked to Look Out for These Blood-Sucking Insects
(Photo: Judy Gallagher on Wikimedia Commons)
A kissing bug is approximately ¾ inches in length with a blackish, flattened, and elongated body. Found on the insect’s abdomen’s sides are reddish-orange markings.


Chagas Disease

The main risk linked to the kissing bugs is not the bugs themselves but the Trypanosoma cruzi or T. cruzi parasite that some carry. The said parasite can cause Chagas disease in both humans and animals.

Chagas disease, or American trypanosomiasis, according to Mayo Clinic, is a possibly fatal disease, transmitting through an infected kissing bug's feces.

When the kissing bugs bite a host, it may excrete near the wound. If the feces are rubbed into one's would, or around the eyes or nose, he could become infected.

Within a couple of weeks of infection, a similar Nebraska Rural Radio report said that many people are experiencing fever or swelling around the bite area, "if any symptoms at all."

After this acute stage, it can turn into a chronic infection. During this stage, there are typically no symptoms experienced at all. A lot of people are not aware they are even infected.

Life-Threatening Medical Conditions

Approximately 20 to 30 percent of those infected are likely to go on to develop severe and, at times, life-threatening medical conditions.

Such conditions, as indicated in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site, include heart rhythm abnormalities that can lead to sudden death, and the heart is dilated that it does not pump blood properly.

Infections that come from this bug species are not common, although if it occurs, treatments are available. For those who had contact with a kissing bug or suspect they may have Chagas disease, experts advise that they contact their healthcare provider right away.

Kissing bugs can live indoors, in holes and cracks, or in various outdoor settings. Specifically, they can be found beneath porches, between rocky constructions, under cemented sites; in brush piles, rock, wood, or beneath the bark; in animal burrows or rodent nests; in outdoor dog kennels; and chicken houses.

For those who catch an insect that looks like a kissing bug, experts recommend that they should get the bug tested for the parasite, especially if they are suspected of having bitten someone.

For Nebraskans, officials advise that they call the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Vector-Borne Disease Program, and they will surely agree to take kissing bugs for investigation and identification.

In addition, for those who find a kissing bug but do not suspect of it, having bitten someone, they are advised to call 402-472-8691 and have the bug sent to the UNL's Insect Diagnostician.

Related information about kissing bugs is shown on The News & Observers's YouTube video below:

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