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Triatomine bug

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When it comes to bedbugs, most people in Russia imagine small parasites that live in mattresses or beds, preferring the blood of humans or pets. However, the diversity of bedbug species is much richer.

Experts estimate the number of species of these parasites on the planet at approximately 40 thousand. There are many different varieties and subfamilies of bedbugs, and believe me, some of them can cause real horror.

In general, bedbugs are not a direct threat to humans, and most species are completely harmless to us. However, there are also those that pose a real danger. Meet the triatomine bug. This species is deservedly considered one of the most dangerous insects on Earth. Every year, tens of thousands of people die due to a deadly disease transmitted by these bugs.

Triatomine bugs: what deadly parasites look like

Firstly, it should be noted that the most dangerous bedbugs on our planet belong to the triatomine family, which is the largest of the order of hemipteran predators.

Triatomine bugs are characterized by a slender, long body, usually reaching two centimeters in length. Their color is mostly black or gray, with pronounced orange or red spots on the sides.

Adult bedbugs have three pairs of legs and a pair of wings. Their head has a conical shape, on which are located simple eyes and long antennae. Since bedbugs are sucking parasites, their mouthparts are a piercing-sucking instrument. The bug has a proboscis that senses infrared radiation.

The main difference between triatomine bedbugs and regular bedbugs is their longer mouthparts and limbs. It is noticeable that to satisfy hunger, the triatomine bug requires half as much blood as its ordinary counterpart, despite its much larger size.

When the triatomine bug feels threatened, it releases an unpleasant odor to repel potential enemies. This action is a self-defense measure. A distinctive feature of these insects is also their ability to make unusual sounds.

Unlike regular bedbugs, which prefer blood, triatomine bedbugs are predators, including not only blood, but also other insects in their diet.

These bugs are nocturnal, hunting in search of their victims. During the day they hide in their shelters, under the bark of trees and in hard-to-reach places.

Interestingly, triatomine bugs are also known as “kissing bugs.” This nickname comes from their special hunting method, as they are unable to bite through skin anywhere, often attacking soft tissue such as eyes and lips.

Reproduction and life of parasites

The average lifespan of these insects is approximately two years. In warm weather, the female begins to lay eggs, which are the size of a match head. After some time, these eggs emerge into nymphs, about two millimeters long.

Nymphs go through five stages of development, with each stage a molt occurs, which is preceded by the consumption of a significant volume of blood.

Where does the parasite live?

Residents of Russia can rest easy, since these dangerous parasites are absent from the country. These insects require certain living conditions, including maintaining a temperature in the range from +20 to +28 degrees. They are common in the Americas, as well as in Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Latin America.

In recent years, the habitat of these bugs has expanded significantly and includes Canada, Central America and western Europe.

Kissing bugs choose as habitats the nests of rodents or birds, and, in some cases, the burrows of armadillos and opossums. They prefer to be close to people and live in structures made of clay, reeds and reeds. These bugs are active at night when the air temperature drops.

Kissing bugs are sensitive to the breath of humans and animals, and they respond to carbon dioxide and heat. In addition, these bugs have a developed sense of smell, and they react to the smell of ammonia and hair emitted by the victim's body.

Chagas disease: what is it?

Like other parasites, bedbugs can serve as carriers of dangerous diseases. One such disease that can be transmitted by kissing bugs is Chagas disease.

The disease was named after the Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas, who was the first to discover that trypanosomes, which transmit the disease, are carried by triatomine bugs and can infect humans and animals.

Fun fact: Trypanosomes are close relatives of the tsetse fly, known for its association with sleeping sickness.

How do you get Chagas disease?

Chagas disease is caused by Trypanosome, a protozoan parasite common in subtropical and tropical climates. A bug, biting infected animals, becomes a carrier of the parasite, which can live in its body for the rest of its life. After two weeks, the bug can transmit the disease to the next victim.

The bite of the triatomine bug is one of the most common ways of contracting this disease. While feeding on blood, the bug injects a natural painkiller into the wound, making the bite invisible to most people.

The feeding process of the bug lasts from 15 to 20 minutes, after which the parasite defecates directly on the victim’s skin. Thus, the trypanosome can enter the body of an unsuspecting victim, penetrating through thin cracks in the mucous membranes. The parasite can also be transmitted to the body through careless rubbing of the eye area.

The disease can also be transmitted:

  • Through food contaminated with bedbug excrement;
  • From an infected pregnant woman to her fetus;
  • When blood is transfused from one person to another;
  • As a result of accidental incidents in laboratory conditions.

How to identify Chagas disease

Adults, according to official statistics, can carry the disease without showing any symptoms, while in children, symptoms can appear and vary depending on the stage of the disease.

At the initial stage of the disease, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Headache and fever;
  • Feeling nauseous and diarrhea;
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes;
  • Redness and swelling at the site of the bite.

In 3-5 out of ten cases, the disease is accompanied by swelling of one eye, and a blister appears on the skin, causing itching.

The disease has several stages. If it does not go away after two months, the second - chronic - stage begins, in which a person can live from 10 to 30 years from the moment of infection. To date, medicine does not offer effective treatment.

Parasites enter the blood and can spread throughout all organs, attacking the liver, heart and adrenal glands. Their toxins cause inflammation and degenerative changes, leading to heart failure and ultimately death.

The following methods are used to diagnose the disease:

  • Study of peripheral blood;
  • Analysis under a microscope;
  • Serological reaction.

In addition to these symptoms, there are external signs that help determine infection, such as blueness of the lips and fingertips, pallor, shortness of breath, fatigue, decreased appetite and pain in the rectum, esophagus and heart.

How is Chagas disease treated?

The incubation period of the disease ranges from five days to two weeks, followed by an acute stage with unpleasant symptoms. It is at this stage that Chagas disease is treatable, and here speed plays a key role - time to begin treatment.

Drugs such as nifurtimox and benzimidazole are used to treat bedbug victims, despite the possible unpleasant side effects. These medications can completely cure bedbug infestation.

Saving from Chagas disease requires efficiency. Starting treatment on time, with medical assistance, increases the chances of full recovery and salvation.

Despite the high level of development of science and medicine, complete extermination of the parasite remains impossible due to the daily appearance of infected animals on the planet. However, you can take certain steps to protect yourself from the infestation by preventing bedbugs from getting close.

Safety measures for maximum protection against the deadly disease include:

  • Treatment of buildings and premises with a special chemical solution that destroys bedbugs;
  • Avoiding visiting old clay buildings, where bedbugs prefer to live;
  • If there are bedbugs in the place of residence, compliance with basic safety measures, such as the use of a mesh canopy on the sleeping area and the presence of an antiseptic;
  • Washing products before use;
  • Before blood transfusion, undergo screening;
  • Regular screening for pregnant women and children.

When traveling to areas where parasites are present, additional precautions should be taken, such as wearing closed clothing, shoes and hats, avoiding the use of perfume, and being careful when touching bird nests and animal burrows. It is not recommended to turn over stones to avoid encountering a potential source of infection. The triatomine subfamily of bedbugs is dangerous, take this into account and be careful!

How to Get Rid of Kissing Bugs (4 Easy Steps)

F.A.Q.

Do triatomine bugs exist on the territory of the Russian Federation?

Russians can rest easy because these dangerous insects do not live in our country. Their distribution range is limited to places where the average annual temperature does not fall below 20 degrees Celsius. These insects are found in Africa, tropical regions and South America.

What diseases can bedbugs carry?

Triatomine bugs can transmit Chagas disease, which is caused by a microscopic parasite. Symptoms of this disease include fever and headache, and after two months it can become chronic.

What danger do triatomine bugs pose?

These insects carry small trypanosome parasites, which can cause a fatal disease known as Chagas disease. If treatment is not started at an early stage, the disease becomes chronic, which, unfortunately, cannot be cured and can be fatal.

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