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Conenose (Kissing) Bugs and Chagas Disease

 Conenose bug

Conenose bugs (also known as “kissing bugs”) are blood-sucking insects that feed on rodents or other wild animals. They will also bite humans, and some people can develop allergies to their bites. These bugs have a long, cone-shaped head and a dark brown or black body and are mostly active at night. 

Conenose bugs can be found throughout most of California, especially in rural foothill and mountainous areas. Adult conenose bugs can fly and are attracted to lights on warm nights. They may enter homes under doors or through open windows.  

Although very rare in California, conenose bugs can spread the parasite (called Trypanasoma cruzi) that causes Chagas disease. This disease can affect certain muscles in the body and cause swelling or other problems in specific organs. You cannot get Chagas disease from the bite of a conenose bug. The parasite that causes Chagas disease only comes from the feces of an infected conenose bug. Some types of conenose bugs defecate (or poop) right after they bite and suck blood. If a person scratches or rubs fresh conenose bug feces into the bite area, or into their eyes, nose, or mouth, they can become infected with the parasite that causes Chagas disease. The conenose bugs in California usually do not defecate while biting and often do so much later and away from the bite area. This is one reason why Chagas disease is rare in California.

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