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Blood-Sucking 'Kissing Bug' Reported In Illinois, CDC Says

CHICAGO (CBS)--An insect that bites humans around the mouth--known by its nickname the 'kissing bug'--is making its way toward Illinois, the Center for Disease Control and the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

The bug can cause disease and has already been reported in several U.S. states, including Illinois. Chagas disease, also called American trypanosomiasis, is caused by infection with the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, or T. cruzi. The parasite is primarily transmitted to humans by triatomine bugs (commonly known as kissing bugs), according to the CDC.

Kissing Bug
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC said the kissing bug originates in South and Central America, and an estimated nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. have been infected with T cruzi.

The bugs are usually brought to the U.S. by people visiting other countries. The insects live indoors in cracks and holes of inadequate housing, such as mud walls and thatched roofs, and they often

The most common way of getting Chagas disease is by a bite from the kissing bug, which carries the T. Cruzi parasite in its feces, health officials said.

The details of specifically how the parasite is transmitted to a human are not for the weak of heart.

"The parasite can enter a human or animal when the bug defecates on the skin during or after its blood meal, allowing the parasite to enter through the bite wound," the DPH wrote on its website. "The parasite also can enter directly through the eye and other mucous membranes."

Health officials say people should turn off lights when they're not being used, move outdoor lights away from homes and to move trash, wood and rock piles away from doors and windows.

It was unclear whether anyone in Illinois has contracted Chagas disease.



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