'Kissing bugs' found in northeast Arkansas - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

'Kissing bugs' found in northeast Arkansas

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(Source: Terry Summers) (Source: Terry Summers)
JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning about a life-threatening illness caused by "kissing bugs" or triatomines.

According to the CDC, 300,000 people may be infected in the U.S. The "kissing bug" is typically spotted in Texas and Virginia but there have been sightings in Arkansas.

These bugs can live indoors, in cracks and holes in the housing. They are typically found in the southern U.S., Mexico, Central American and South America. On Thursday, a kissing bug was found inside Terry Summer's home in Jonesboro."I noticed around the nightlight there was this big bug crawling, I had no idea what it was," Summers told Region 8 News. 

She posted a picture of the bug on her Facebook page then submitted a picture of the bug to Texas A&M University. The university informed Summers the bug was in fact, a "kissing bug." She was told to put the bug in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. 

Veterinarian Archie Ryan at Southwest Drive Animal Clinic said kissing bugs carry a parasite that can cause diseases in humans and animals.

"There are common bugs in the Arkansas delta, it has been diagnosed in surrounding states although it is not prevalent," Ryan said. 

Kissing bugs can be found around woodpiles, debris in the yard and nests. There are 11 different species on kissing bugs but the CDC has only identified one in Arkansas. The bug can cause a moderate to severe allergic reaction. Another health concern is Chagas disease or American trypanosomiasis. 

“We do have the bugs here, we have immigrants coming to America that could be infected with this disease," Ryan said. 

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