Assassin bugs or Kissing Bugs as they are sometimes known can be very dangerous for you and your pets. If you see one, do not touch it with bare hands or gloves that can be easily penetrated. On pets, they normally gather around the eyes or mouth and feed off blood. These bugs transmit the highly hazardous diseases called American Trypanosomiasis, which can prove fatal to you or your pet. It is also known as “Chagas Disease”.
The disease is contracted when the bug bites into the dog and then — sorry, this is nasty — rubs its feces into the bite wound or into a mucous membrane.
The bugs feed when pets are asleep. Dogs can also get Chagas disease by eating the bugs. Chagas disease is known as “the silent killer” because people don’t know they have it until the later stages of the disease. The results can be fatal. Symptoms of Chagas disease include massively swelling eyelids. Symptoms may start out as flu-like, but eventually become very painful. If you suspect you or your child might have contracted Chagas, go to a hospital immediately.
Please do not ever touch a kissing bug with your bare hands! The T. cruzi parasite occurs in the feces of kissing bugs, and their bodies may be contaminated. A glove or small plastic bag may be used to catch the bug to avoid direct contact with the bug. The bug may be stored in a sealed plastic bag, in a vial, or other small container. All surfaces with which the bug came into contact should be thoroughly cleaned with a bleach solution.
KISSING BUGS How to Identify
Kissing bugs can be recognized by their ‘cone-shaped’ head, thin antennae, and thin legs. All of the U.S. species are mainly black or very dark brown, with red, orange or yellow ‘stripes’ around the edge. Their bites are generally not painful (since their goal is to bite and feed without being detected), and they are mainly active at dusk or night.