URBANA, Ill. – The CDC is warning of a bug that can cause painful symptoms. But local experts say, that might not be the case.
The “kissing bug” is a predatory insect that feeds on blood.
U of I field crop entimologist Nicholas Seiter told us the insect is what’s called a “vector” (carrier) of the Chagas disease, which can cause heart and/or instestinal problems.
He says while it’s possible the “kissing bug” in Illinois could carry the parasite for the disease, it’s not likely that disease would be transmitted to humans.
He says that’s because of how the insect behaves here. The disease is spread when the insect defecates while it’s feeding, and the feces goes into the bloodstream.
Seiter says, the kissing bugs here don’t do that, like the bugs in South America do.
Seiter says the bugs here still bite, and the bite can be very painful. However, he believes fleas, tick, and mosquitoes pose more of a threat than the kissing bug does, at this time in Illinois.