I, for one, Welcome our New Bloated, Bloodsucking, Disease Bearing Overlords

June 1, 2012

Is yet another disease vector coming our way? This one likes to get up close and very personal…

AZ Central:

Kissing bugs transmit the disease as they drink blood from humans, typically at night, and spread the parasite through feces. After a brief period of relatively minor symptoms, including a sore at the bite and a fever, the disease usually goes dormant. It re-emerges years or decades later, with severe heart or gastrointestinal problems in about 20 percent to 40 percent of patients. There are treatments for acute infections, but once the disease causes major organ damage, it cannot be reversed.The disease is also transmitted by blood transfusions, organ transplants and in childbirth.Screening of the blood supply began in most areas of the nation in early 2007, and the CDC says 1,000 infected donors have been identified. Nearly all donors acquired it in their home country, but a handful had never been in south or central America, and officials are investigating where they contracted the parasite.

ScienceDaily (Mar. 15, 2012) — In the spring of 1835, Charles Darwin was bitten in Argentina by a “great wingless black bug,” he wrote in his diary.

“It is most disgusting to feel soft wingless insects, about an inch long, crawling over one’s body,” Darwin wrote, “before sucking they are quite thin, but afterwards round & bloated with blood.”

In all likelihood, Darwin’s nighttime visitor was a member of Reduviid family of insects — the so-called kissing bugs because of their habit of biting people around the mouth while they sleep.

From this attack, some infectious disease experts have speculated, the famed naturalist might have contracted Chagas disease, a parasite-borne illness carried by kissing bugs, that today afflicts millions of people in Central and South America. Darwin’s bite may have led, ultimately, to his death from heart problems.

This hypothesis has been contested for decades, but if Darwin had experienced this bug attack in the United States, no one would have made such a speculation, since Chagas disease is almost unheard of in the U.S.

That could change, new research shows.

Lori Stevens, a biologist at the University of Vermont, and her colleagues, found that 38 percent of the kissing bugs they collected in Arizona and California contained human blood.

This upends the previous understanding of insect experts and doctors that the eleven species of kissing bugs that occur in the US don’t regularly feed on people.

“This finding was totally unexpected,” says Dr. Stephen Klotz, head of the infectious diseases department at the University of Arizona medical school and a co-author on the study.

And more than 50 percent of the bugs the research team collected also carried Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

Their study is reported in the March 14 online edition of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“The basic message is that the bug is out there, and it’s feeding on humans, and carries the parasite,” says Stevens, “so there may be greater potential for humans to have the disease in the United States than previously thought.”

“We think the actual transmission is higher than the seven cases we have identified,” says Patricia Dorn, an expert on Chagas disease at Loyola University and co-author on the new study, “but, even with these findings, we think the transmission of Chagas — of the T. cruzi parasite — is still very low in the US.”

But with a warming climate that rate might rise.

6 Responses to “I, for one, Welcome our New Bloated, Bloodsucking, Disease Bearing Overlords”

  1. daveburton Says:

    “But with a warming climate that rate might rise.” True, yet deceptive, because:

    But with a cooling climate that rate might rise — is also true, and

    But with a stable climate that rate might rise — is also true.

    Why can’t you stick to Just The Facts?

    • patricklinsley Says:

      ‘Why can’t you stick to Just The Facts?’

      He is. That’s from the study. You wanna argue with someone argue with the authors.

      • daveburton Says:

        There’s no study linking kissing bugs to climate change.

        • There is no study linking linking daveburton’s statements to a commonly recognized version of reality, but we can make reasonable predictions based on past and parallel observations.

          For example, we have determined on numerous occasions that despite the fact that daveburton knows much less about science than many high school students, he is prone to making ill-considered criticisms contrary to the opinions of experts in the field. It would therefore be reasonable to assume that he would challenge the hypothesis of entomology experts without having evidence to the contrary, an understanding of the issues relevant to the field, or any particular information germane to the question at hand.

          And you have just demonstrated that we would be correct in our prediction.

          So, it would seem reasonable that entomologists, who know picky sciencey stuff about insect ranges and how they relate to temperatures and other factors would be able to make reasonable predictions about whether kissing bugs might increase their ranges as temperature zones expand. And we know this for the very same reason that we know you will make politically-motivated poorly-reasoned cavils about anything which supports AGW and its negative effects on civilization – by objectively analyzing past observations and extrapolating them to research hypotheses.

          So, thanks, daveburton. 🙂

          • daveburton Says:

            Never mind the facts, you know what you believe, eh, Roger? Spoken like a True Believer.

            The fact remains that there’s no study linking kissing bugs to climate change. Your insults do not change that fact.

  2. […] background-position: 50% 0px ; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } climatecrocks.com – Today, 1:26 […]

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