Meet the kissing bug, and why you should stay away from it at all costs

This insect called Triatoma looks very similar to a simple stinkbug, but in truth it is much more dangerous. Stay away from it whenever you see it!

Although this insect is neither one of the most poisonous spiders in the world nor a scorpion or a killer wasp, it should never be touched. It is an animal of the Triatominae family, a subfamily of predatory bugs.

Risk to life and limb

One of these extremely dangerous bugs is Triatoma infestans. It feeds on blood and can transmit unicellular parasites through its bites, pathogens of the so-called Chagas disease.

The predatory bug is mainly found in Latin America and the southern United States and sucks the blood of both humans and animals.

Chagas disease first manifests itself with swelling of the bite wound produced by the bug. This can be followed by severe fever and swelling of the lymph nodes, as well as enlargement of the liver and spleen. In adults, the disease is usually curable, but it can cause heart disease.

You better not get too close to this insect  Gabriel Enrique@Getty Images

Children particularly at risk

So if you ever meet the Triatoma infestans on your journey through South America, you'd better not touch it. What did mummy always say? You can look at everything, but you don't have to touch it. Cousins of these dread insects can also be found around the globe, having a very wide variety of habitable ecosystems.

Chagas disease is especially dangerous for children. Just one sting can lead to heart failure or brain dysfunction in children. Both can lead to death.

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