The nickname given to the insects that spread Chagas disease is somewhat bittersweet: kissing bugs. Their name stems from the fact that they like biting humans around their lips and faces as they sleep, after which they defecate into the wound with feces that harbor an infectious parasite, Trypanasoma cruzi. The parasite then enters the bloodstream and causes Chagas disease, also known as trypanosomiasis.
Though the disease is generally considered to be mild or even asymptomatic among most, a new study has found that deaths fueled by the infection are much more common than we know — and are going unrecognized. In the study, published Thursday in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, infection with Chagas was found to increase risk of death by two to three times. READ MORE