Many of you reading this in Texas right now are probably not too fond of bugs. For good reason, they're small, they're creepy looking, they're able to carry any number of diseases and they just make you feel dirty even though you're not. There are a plethora of bugs and insects that can get inside your home in our fair state. One such bug, which only existed in South America at one time, has been able to migrate north that can be deadly over time if it bites you, the Kissing Bug.

The Kissing Bug

The Kissing Bug has a cute name but in no way is it a cute creature. First off, the thing is just ugly. The thing has eight legs, a long and flat thorax, a small head with antennas and is attracted to the CO2 we emit when breathing. That attraction is what gives it the name of the Kissing Bug. While we sleep, it will crawl onto our face near our mouth, bite us and then poop next to that bite (CDC).

NBC News via YouTube
NBC News via YouTube


The bug releases an anesthetic during the bite so you don't feel it. After the anesthetic wears off, you'll start feeling that bite. Our natural reaction is to scratch or rub that area. This will smear the bug's poop into the bite, possibly infecting you with Chagas disease.

What is Chagas disease?

Kissing Bugs are prone to carrying Chagas disease which comes from a parasite the bug can carry called Triatoma sanguisuga (CDC). If you ignore the initial symptoms, the disease could turn deadly, in particular heart disease. If treated in the early stages, that can most likely be avoided.

Center for Disease Control
Center for Disease Control

Early symptoms of Chagas disease include:

  • Swelling at the infection site
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Body aches
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Enlargement of your liver or spleen

These symptoms will go away on their own if untreated but that's where it leads to a more chronic phase of the disease that won't appear until 10 to 20 years after the initial bite.

Chronic symptoms of Chagas disease include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart failure
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Difficulty swallowing due to enlarged esophagus
  • Stomach pain or constipation due to enlarged colon

Chagas Can Infect Your Dog, Too

Yes, your dog can bitten and pooped on by a Kissing Bug, too. Chagas disease is bad enough in humans, in dogs, it can cause some much more severe symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Low energy
  • Not wanting to or able to exercise and play like usual
  • Depression
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Swollen belly
  • Pale or purple/blue gums
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Stumbling

It's hard to detect if your dog has contracted Chagas disease without doing any kind of lab tests. There are only limited treatments, as well, for your dog. Having said that, many of the current flea and tick medications you already give your dogs, like Bravecto, Nexgard and Trifexis, are effective against Kissing Bugs (

The best prevention is pest control. If you rent, talk to your landlord about pest prevention to keep Kissing Bugs, and any other insects and bugs, out of your home. If you're a home owner, keep up a regular visit from your pest control expert. Also, make sure you don't have any brush or firewood or old tree limbs stacked next your house.

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