The Fear of Chagas Disease
In Ohio, there has recently been worry about Chagas disease being transmitted by kissing bugs. However, despite what you might have read or heard, you are not in significant danger in Ohio of getting this life-threatening disease from kissing bugs.
In many parts of the world, the threat is real, but fears in this region are unwarranted according to insect experts at Ohio State University. “Chagas disease is an important illness throughout Central and South America. However, the risk of contracting this disease in Ohio is extremely low,” the university’s entomology department says.
In fact, it is even for Chagas disease to be transmitted by bugs in the U.S. in general. There have been fewer than 30 cases have been documented of Americans acquiring the disease from infected bugs in the U.S.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 300,000 Americans have Chagas disease, however they could have contracted it elsewhere or by other means. Chagas disease can be transmitted by blood fusions, organ transplants, from infected mothers to their unborn babies, and of course from bug bites.
Kissing bugs prefer to live and feed in wooded or brushy areas so they are not normally close to humans, especially when they feed at night. Transmission by kissing bugs is a problem in areas that have warmer climates and widespread poverty (where homes are poorly sealer or screened).