Travelers asked to use caution with kissing bugs - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Travelers asked to use caution with kissing bugs

Entomologist Dr. Ed Bynum Entomologist Dr. Ed Bynum

Amarillo, TX - Officials are warning travelers to be cautious this holiday season.

Kissing bugs have become more prevalent in the U.S., however they haven't been seen here in the panhandle...and officials want to keep it that way.

Chagas, an untreatable disease is being seen in kissing bugs. While the disease itself is concerning, there is no need for those in the panhandle to be alarmed...yet.

Entomologist Dr. Ed Bynum says the bugs are not here, however he is worried about holiday travelers bringing the insects back.

"What I would be concerned about would be people with would be traveling this Christmas season, going somewhere where the kissing bug's more prevalent. And in certain situations they could come in contact with a kissing bug," says Bynum.

The cockroach-like insect earned its name from the way it feeds. It often bites a person or animal's face and lips while they sleep and now, the bugs are carrying  the disease.

"It is a contagious disease and something that people would need to be worried about," says Bynum. "Also it's a disease of dogs and so it's something that is a major concern."

While many think the cold will kill any existing bugs off, Bynum says that is not always the case. All they need to survive is blood.

"And so that's going to be wherever there's pets or where there's farm animals or something like that. Or for humans. And so if that's the case, they're going to be living in the same place that they can get a blood meal. And so I don't think the cold temperatures necessarily would keep them away."

To submit your bug to see if it is a kissing bug, visit http://kissingbug.tamu.edu/

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