They may be called "kissing beetles," but they have no love for you.
Health officials warn that these blood-sucking insects can sneak up when you're sleeping – and a bite from one can spread a deadly disease called Chagas.
"It was super itchy for two or three weeks," said Lynn Kaufer Hodson, according to Fox News. At first she thought she had been bitten by a mosquito or some other beetle, but later she learned that she had contracted the disease when she was about to give blood.
The disease is caused by tiny beetles called Triatomine circling your face as you sleep and bite your eyes and lips, giving them the colloquial name "Kissing Beetles," according to ABC News.
The beetles suck blood like ticks or mosquitoes and then they shit into the open wound that spreads the disease through a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Sometimes the person can inadvertently brush the manure into the wound without noticing it.
Chagas often has no symptoms, according to CDC, but can lurk in the body for years and cause serious problems B. enlarged heart, enlarged colon, heart attacks and more
The beetles are common in South and Central America, where until To 8 million people may be infected with Chagas, the CDC reported, but the insects have spread steadily north. There are 1
The American Heart Associated published a statement on August 20, stating that "at least" 300,000 People in the United States were affected by Chagas and hoped that they could raise awareness of the disease.
Scientists have begun to show greater interest in disease research and have asked people to capture and send kissing beetles for testing. One such program is in Oklahoma and another in Texas.
The disease is not transmitted through human-to-human contact, but can be transmitted to a child by a pregnant woman and is particularly dangerous to those with compromised immune systems, ABC News reported.
"Chagas disease causes early mortality and significant disability, which often occurs in the most productive population, young adults, (and) leads to significant economic loss," said a medical representative of the American Heart Association, according to the network.
Treatment is possible with antiparasitic drugs, but the medication is prioritized for high-risk patients, so people like Hodson are sometimes forced to wait, according to Fox News.
"They say if you treat it right away, research shows it's effective," Hodson told the network. I had to wait five months, the way I looked at it – I have it, it will either affect me or not. "
The night bugs can be treated with conventional pesticides when an infestation occurs, though a single one Insect, according to Texas A & M, should not be worth the alarm. The university recommends consulting a doctor if you suspect that you have been bitten by one of the insects.