CDC urges precautions after blood-sucking ‘kissing bug’ bites child

(WHDH) — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is urging the public to take a number of precautions after a blood-sucking “kissing bug” bit a child while she was watching television in her bedroom.

After conducting months of testing following an unusual report in July 2018, CDC researchers confirmed a child from Kent County, Delaware, was bitten by a triatomine. A window air conditioning unit was located in the bedroom where the bite occurred.

Triatomines are blood-sucking insects that feed on animals and humans, and they have a predilection for biting the faces of humans, according to health officials.

The child did not fall ill but triatomines can transmit Chagas disease, which can cause serious or sometimes fatal cardiac and gastrointestinal complications.

Triatomine bugs are typically found in Latin America but some have been found in the United States. Only a few cases of Chagas disease have been documented in this country, according to the CDC.

Homeowners should take the following precautions to avoid attracting triatomine bugs, according to the CDC:

“Precautions to prevent triatomine bug infestation at homes include moving outdoor lights away from dwellings, such as homes, dog kennels, and chicken coops, and turning off lights that are not in use. Homeowners should also remove trash, wood, and rock piles from around the home and clear out any bird and animal nests from around the home. Cracks and gaps around windows, air conditioners, walls, roofs, doors, and crawl spaces into the house should be inspected and sealed. Chimney flues should be tightly closed when not in use and screens should be used on all doors and windows. Ideally, pets should sleep indoors, especially at night, and outdoor pet resting areas kept clean.”

Outside of Delaware, triatomine bugs are typically found in the southern United States. There have yet to be reported sightings in the Northeast.

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