AUG 28, 2018 06:41 AM PDT

While You Sleep This Parasitic Bug Could Chew on Your Face

It sounds like a horror movie. At night, while people are peacefully sleeping, a tiny bug crawls over their face, takes a bite, sucks some blood out, and an epic flesh-eating parasitic infection follows. The problem with that scenario is that it’s real, and not the latest summer sci-fi blockbuster. Tiny bloodsucking bugs, called triatomine bugs, spread a parasite that causes Chagas disease. Left untreated, Chagas can have severe impacts on the cardiovascular system and the intestinal tract. The CDC fact sheet warns that complications arise in about 30% of patients and can lead to heart failure and sudden death. 

The disease is common in Central and South America, but cases are on the rise in the US, Australia, and Japan. The American Heart Association issued a warning about the disease since many who contract it will not show signs of the infection until it’s too late. It’s been referred to by some scientists as a “silent killer.” Out of more than 100 species of triatomine bugs, about a dozen are considered significant carriers of a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas. When they feed, they usually will also defecate, and if a person rubs their eye and the fecal material enters the wound, the infection easily passes through the mucous membranes. Because the disease is not common in the US, many doctors don’t recognize it. It’s treatable, with anti-parasitic drugs, but only if caught early.

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
OCT 04, 2018
Videos
OCT 04, 2018
Understanding Fibromyalgia
Many people wonder exactly what causes Fibromyalgia, since there was never a definite answer, some question if the disease is even real despite the pain be...
OCT 08, 2018
Technology
OCT 08, 2018
The SolarFlower is a Promising New Take on Solar Energy
Solar energy is a clean and renewable energy source with promising applications in the near future as solar panel technology matures. SmartFlower is an int...
OCT 20, 2018
Videos
OCT 20, 2018
Understanding how the Immune System is Controlled
Scientists are trying to learn more about a gene, PTPN22, that is especially critical to the immune system....
OCT 21, 2018
Videos
OCT 21, 2018
Rare Footage of the 'Headless Chicken Monster'
The headless chicken monster is actually a deep-sea swimming sea cucumber scientifically known as, Enypniastes eximia. The strange creature was seen on fil...
NOV 01, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 01, 2018
Mid-air Chemistry Experiment Opens Up a New Era in Metal-organic Frameworks Research
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are molecules with network structures made of metal ion cores coordinated to organic ligands. Due to their high internal su...
NOV 11, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 11, 2018
Stop Procrastinating, It's Not Good for You
Procrastination is common, but some people procrastinate much more than others. Those who do it persistently probably exhibit something known as chronic pr...
Loading Comments...