Reactions to bites from kissing bugs (primarily genus Triatoma)
- Jerome Goddard, PhD
Jerome Goddard, PhD
- Extension Professor of Medical and Veterinary Entomology
- Mississippi State University
- Richard D deShazo, MD
Richard D deShazo, MD
- Billy S Guyton Distinguished Professor
- Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
- University of Mississippi Medical Center
- Section Editors
- David B Golden, MD
David B Golden, MD
- Section Editor — Bites and Stings
- Associate Professor of Medicine
- Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
- Daniel F Danzl, MD
Daniel F Danzl, MD
- Section Editor — Environmental Emergencies
- Professor of Emergency Medicine
- University of Louisville School of Medicine
Triatomine insects (colloquial names include kissing bug, Mexican bed bug, and cone-nosed bug) are found primarily in the western and southern United States, in Central and South America, and in Mexico (picture 1 and picture 2). These insects feed on blood and will bite various animals and people, although humans are not a primary host .
Triatoma bites are generally painless and asymptomatic. However, reactions can occur, ranging from local irritation at the site to allergic and anaphylactic reactions.
Triatomines are also of medical interest because they are the insect vectors for the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease. Triatoma and other closely related species found in the United States infrequently transmit T. cruzi, whereas the infection is endemic in some parts of South America. They do not transmit other human disease agents.
Local and allergic reactions to triatoma bites are discussed in this topic review. Chagas disease and public health measures to control populations of kissing bugs in endemic areas are presented elsewhere. (See "Chagas disease: Pathology and pathogenesis" and "Chagas disease: Epidemiology and prevention".)
Triatoma bites are among the most common causes of insect bite-related allergy and anaphylaxis . However, bite-induced anaphylaxis is less common than sting-related anaphylaxis, such as that induced by Hymenoptera species such as bees, wasps, and ants.To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:
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- Risk factors
- ENTOMOLOGY OF TRIATOMA
- Worldwide distribution
- Biting behavior
- CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS
- Local reactions
- - Differential diagnosis
- - Treatment
- Allergic reactions
- - Epidemiology of allergic reactions
- - Signs and symptoms
- - Anaphylaxis identification and treatment
- - Identification of the insect
- - Differential diagnosis
- LONG-TERM MANAGEMENT OF TRIATOMA ALLERGY
- Access to epinephrine
- Avoidance measures
- - Pesticide application
- Diagnostic tests and immunotherapy
- ADVICE ABOUT CHAGAS DISEASE AFTER A TRIATOMA BITE
- INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS