AUG 28, 2018 6:41 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
AUG 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
First Visitor from Another Solar System Remains Unknown
AUG 18, 2020
First Visitor from Another Solar System Remains Unknown
An object hurtling through our solar system known as 'Oumuamua' is our first visitor from another solar sys ...
AUG 21, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Earth's Outer Core, in the Middle of a Laboratory
AUG 21, 2020
Earth's Outer Core, in the Middle of a Laboratory
Deep underneath our feet lies Earth's outer core, a fluid layer over two thousand kilometers (1,500 mi) in thickness ...
SEP 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Reprogramming Virus to Build Better Li-ion Batteries
SEP 10, 2020
Reprogramming Virus to Build Better Li-ion Batteries
There's no doubt that the word "virus" is currently on everyone's mind. However, there's a lot mor ...
OCT 07, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Discovery of Phosphine on Venus - What Does It Mean?
OCT 07, 2020
Discovery of Phosphine on Venus - What Does It Mean?
A Nature Astronomy paper in September, titled "Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus", has led t ...
NOV 05, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
No, Gravity Doesn't Affect How Bubbles Collapse
NOV 05, 2020
No, Gravity Doesn't Affect How Bubbles Collapse
The ubiquitous presence of bubbles makes them a common phenomenon, but interestingly our understanding of this globular ...
JAN 13, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Identify Another Crucial Aspect for Planets to Support Life
JAN 13, 2021
Astronomers Identify Another Crucial Aspect for Planets to Support Life
For some time now, we have known of the 'Goldilocks zone'- a distance from the sun that leads to planets neither ...
Loading Comments...