Uptick in Chagas Disease in South Texas - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Uptick in Chagas Disease in South Texas

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What's known as the 'neglected tropical disease' is Chagas Disease. A disease found in a beatle also called the kissing bug, a nocturnal blood-feeding insect. 

Kissing bugs are established in 28 states of America. According to the Chagas Disease Research Project at Texas A&M University studies have found that about 50% of kissing bugs are infected with the Chagas parasite. 

The parasite called, Trypanosoma cruzi, can cause Chagas disease in humans, dogs and other mammals. 

When kissing bugs bite and defecate in the wound, that's when the parasite is transmitted through the victim. Dogs can also contract the disease by ingesting a kissing bug that has Chagas Disease. 

Dr. Rob Perkins, Veterinarian at Tejas Veterinary Clinic, says most veterinarians have noticed an uptick in the Chagas disease in South Texas. Dr. Perkins says he used to only see one case a year, and now he sees about four to five cases of Chagas disease in a year. 

If a dog has Chagas, many times they can have heart failure. Sometimes dogs will not show symptoms. If they do, it can be fatigue, discolored gums, and heavy breathing. Through testing, Chagas can be detected in your pet.

Dr. Perkins says there is no veterinary cure for Chagas, and the best prevention "is to be aware of it, learn what that beatle looks like, see if you have that in your environment and if you do call the pesticide person to eliminate that vector."

If you find a Kissing Bug in your environment, you can send it to this website: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/idcu/health/zoonosis/Triatominae/

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