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The Kissing Bug May Look Harmless, But Its Bite Can Kill You

NOVEMBER 14, 2016  —  By Corinne Sanders

While spiders freak us all out, they typically do a good job of warning us to keep our distance.

But unlike scary-looking arachnids, there are some seriously dangerous insects out there that seem perfectly safe until they bite. Take Triatominae insects, for example. Also known as kissing bugs, these critters don't look like much. However, they can transmit a deadly disease that often isn't detected until it's too late.

Kissing bugs can be found all over America, with some species in Asia, Africa, and Australia. They like to live in chicken coups and outdoor dog houses as well as under porches, rocks, and cement.

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After hatching from their eggs, they go through five stages of development before becoming adults.

These insects feed on the blood of animals and even humans if they happen to come in contact.

Before sucking blood from their hosts, they deposit feces onto the skin and then bite. This transmits a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease.

Unfortunately, victims of this disease don't always know they have it until it's too late for treatment, as the initial symptoms may only feel like the flu. It makes sense, then, that these creatures are also known as assassin bugs.

More severe symptoms include swelling of the eyelids, digestive issues, abdominal pain, and heart failure, which ends in death.

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If you think you've been bitten by one of these bugs, it's extremely important that you seek medical attention even if you don't have any symptoms. It could mean the difference between life and death.

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