Expats and citizens in Spain warned over deadly bed bug infection

Published:  20 Sep at 6 PM
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A distant relative of the common bed bug is on the rise in the USA and Europe and is transmitting a killer disease through its saliva.

Known in Spain as the ‘chinches del beso’ (kiss bug), the insect bites its human victims around their mouths or on their facial skin, defecating adjacent to the bite and infecting the bite with a deadly disease formerly confined to South America. Chagas disease, as it’s known, causes severe intestinal and cardiac complications, with most of the bug’s victims not even aware they’ve contracted the disease until later.
According to research, one out of every three victims develop heart problems which may result in heart failure and death if they’re not diagnosed with the disease in time.

According to the Inter-American Cardiology Society and the American Heart Association, the disease is spreading fast throughout the USA, Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia and is now known to have invaded Spain and Italy. Estimates reveal some 42,000 individuals, including expats, who’re infected with the disease in Spain, with some 300,000 sufferers in the USA and a total of six million people worldwide. Chagas is described as a parasitic infestation, and is using the insects as a carrier. Bites usually occur at night, biting humans, dogs and other mammals close to the mouth and eyes.

Over 100 different species are known as carriers, with just 12 transporting the Chagas virus. Infected victims can either be symptom-free, show light swelling of the eyelids or get non-specific symptoms including fatigue, fever, skin rashes, body pain or headaches. In more serious cases, vomiting and diarrhea will occur, and a small number of those infected will develop potentially fatal complications such as swelling on the brain or of the heart. If left undiagnosed and untreated, the disease becomes chronic, with 30 per cent of sufferers developing severe complication at a later date.
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