Could the Kissing Bug Threaten Laredoans?
An article from a McAllen newspaper is causing some south Texans to worry.
It's about a bug that can cause serious health problems if infected. Our Lauren Kendrick spoke to the health department director to see if residents of Laredo have anything to worry about.
The article mentions the insects known as kissing bugs. They carry a parasite that can cause heart disease as well as digestive problems and eventually lead to death. The majority of people infected live in central and south America. However, researchers have found the bug in the valley. Luckily the director of the health department says we don't have anything to worry about here in Laredo.
"We have no cases of changas disease which commonly is called the kissing bug disease."
Although the kissing bug does live here, director of the Laredo Health Department, Hector Gonzalez, wants to set the record straight that Laredoans are not at risk for the disease.
"The bug is here though. It's endemic here. It lives here."
Kissing bugs are attracted to a person's breath which is why the bites are usually around one's face. Once the bite becomes swollen it causes it to itch. That's what makes people scratch and spread the parasite into the wounds. Gonzalez attributes the city's good hygiene to the reason there haven't been any cases of it.
"Our conditions have good sanitation, good hygiene, good general health. You go to the doctor. Tthose are the conditions that help us from not getting chagas disease."
They might look harmless, but these little bugs can cause serious problems to those that may become infected with chagas disease.
"It's a parasite that causes the disease and it's a long term effort that may cause heart problems."
Even though Gonzalez is confident that Laredoans are safe from the kissing bug, this article from 'The Monitor' in McAllen has been circulating around the state of Texas causing some commotion.
"As far as I understand the article is about some biologists at UT PAN-AM who are doing studies and made statements, but we don't have the disease."