The latest on disease-prone ‘kissing bugs’ that spread to NJ
There's what could arguably be considered both good and bad news about the blood-sucking inspects known as "kissing bugs" in New Jersey.
Triatomine bugs, which can carry the parasite that causes Chagas disease, were reported in neighboring states, including Delaware two years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just months later, a CDC map on Triatomine bug location added New Jersey, with no other details publicly posted as to just when or where the bugs had been reported.
A request for comment from state health officials was not answered as of late Wednesday.
If untreated, Chagas infection is lifelong and can be life threatening, with the most severe cases including cardiac and gastrointestinal complications.
The parasite that carries it is actually transmitted through the feces of an infected bug, which can spread if rubbed into a wound, including a bite from the insect itself.
Late last summer, as much of the public's attention continued to be focused on coronavirus, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a medication made by Bayer — the pharmaceutical company with corporate headquarters in Morris County — for treating child patients with Chagas.
Not all triatomine bugs are infected with the parasite and CDC officials have said the likelihood of human infection from contact in the U.S. is low, even when the bug is infected.
Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed to observe World Chagas Day each year on April 14, in recognition of "this growing public health problem and the need to create awareness on ways to increase detection and prevent its spread."