Kissing Bug can lead to dangerous parasite infection while you sleep

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A rare parasitic infection called Chagas disease has been gaining headlines in recent weeks after cases of the infection were reported in at least five states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chagas disease, which can cause long-term cardiac damage, is mainly found in rural Central and South America, but some experts are concerned that cases are beginning to rise in southern U.S. states. Infections have been reported in Arkansas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas, according to the CDC.

The disease is caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite and is spread almost exclusively through bites from the triatomine insect, also called the "kissing bug," since it usually bites around the eyes and mouth, usually when they come out to feed at night. In rural Central and South America, the bugs are often found in the walls of homes made from mud, adobe or straw. The insect has also been found in other U.S. states but that does not necessarily mean the bugs carry the parasite, experts said.

Once in the body, the parasite can remain hidden for years, or even decades, eventually resulting in serious heart disease, including stretching of the heart muscle called cardiomyopathy or irregular heartbeat. Other early acute symptoms include fever, fatigue, body aches, headache and rash.

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