'Kissing Bug' disease a growing concern in US

'Kissing Bug' Disease Becoming Growing Concern In The U.S.

It might sound like a fake virus you want your significant other to catch -- but it's definitely the wrong kind of cootie.

The "Kissing Bug" disease has some 8 million people scared for their life in Latin America. Also known as the Chagas disease, the life-threatening illness is passed to people by this freaky little guy, called a "kissing bug" or "assassin bug."

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates around 300,000 people in the U.S. might be infected.

One doctor told The Atlantic it could have sprouted in Virginia because of the number of Bolivians living there. Bolivia has the highest rate of Chagas in the world, and it's common for pregnant women to be screened for the disease because there's a high risk they could pass it on to their children. Virginia (specifically Northern Virginia) is now being called 'Ground Zero' for the kissing bug disease.

It's not necessarily easy to become infected. People are exposed to the parasite through feces of insects that are carrying it, usually through a cut in the skin.

Severe cases can cause heart failure and brain inflammation, but the disease can also go undetected for years at a time. Some 11,000 people died from the disease every year.

"Kissing bug"
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'Kissing Bug' disease a growing concern in US
The triatomine bug that spreads Chagas disease. Also called the kissing bug and assassin bug.
CB056990 (Royalty-Free) Bee Assassin Bug Image: ¿ Royalty-Free/Corbis Date Photographed: ca. 2000 Animals Flowers Nobody Photography Assassin bug Insect Petal Yellow Color photography Invertebrate

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