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First "kissing bug" in Delaware confirmed

Courtesy of the CDC

The CDC has confirmed that an insect that bit a child’s face in Kent County last July was a “kissing bug.”

The finding was the first confirmed identification of the insect T. sanguisuga in Delaware, according to the CDC.

The Delaware Division of Public health and Department of Agriculture helped identify the insect after the girl’s family reported she was bitten on the face while watching TV in her bedroom. According to the CDC, she suffered no ill effects after being bitten.

Triatomine bugs, known as kissing bugs, reduviid bugs or assassin bugs, are blood-sucking insects. They can transmit a parasite carrying Chagas disease, which causes symptoms such as swelling of the bite, fever, rash, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the CDC. Chronic Chagas only affects a portion of those infected, but can cause cardiac or intestinal complications decades after infection.

The disease is regularly found throughout Central and South America— but there are increasing reports of cases acquired in the United States, according to a team at Texas A&M University that studies Chagas.

The University’s data shows kissing bugs are established in at least 28 states in the southern half of the U.S.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.