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A kiss of death

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Written by   13
1 year ago

In the middle of the night, as you sleep soundly, you get closer and closer. It doesn't wake you up. In fact, you don't even move when you receive your harmful "kiss".

THAT nocturnal intruder is the barber beetle, also known as the bug, that thrives in South America. This insect's prolonged "kiss" can last up to 15 minutes while the insect slowly sucks blood. In itself, the "kiss" is not going to hurt you. But the feces on the skin can contain a microorganism called Trypanosoma cruzi, or simply T. cruzi. If this parasite enters the body through the eyes, mouth, or an open cut, it can cause American trypanosomiasis, better known as Chagas disease.

In its acute phase, the most common symptom of Chagas disease is swelling of an eye. Fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, or diarrhea may occur. Then, after a month or two, the symptoms usually go away, even without treatment. But maybe the worst is yet to come. Around 10 to 20 years after infection, the victim may develop heart problems, including arrhythmias or even heart failure. * *

It is estimated that up to 18 million people are infected with Chagas disease and around 50,000 people die each year. Not all victims are bitten directly by the insect. For example, some are breastfed babies who contracted the disease from an infected mother. A pregnant woman can even transmit the disease to the fetus or infect the baby at birth. Other forms of transmission include blood transfusions and consumption of raw foods contaminated with T. cruzi. * *

What are we doing to fight Chagas disease? Insecticides have been effective in controlling the barber beetle population. However, fumigation of the house is uncomfortable and must be repeated every six months. The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro has developed an alternative: an ink with an insecticide. The product was tested in 4,800 households. The result? Two years later, 80% of them were still flawless! The researchers also found that neem leaves or Brazilian cinnamon contain a biodegradable and non-toxic substance (azadiractin) that not only cures infected beetles, but also prevents healthy beetles from becoming hosts.

Help for the infected

Is there hope for the millions of people who are infected with Chagas disease? Yes. An international team of scientists is trying to unlock the secrets of the 10,000 genes of T. cruzi. This can help develop more effective diagnostic tests, vaccines, and drugs.

In July 1997, scientists sent one of T. cruzi’s vital proteins into space aboard the Columbia Space Shuttle to study its structure in weightlessness. This is a fundamental step in the development of drugs that adapt to the structure of T. cruzi. Finding new drugs is important as currently no drugs are effective once the disease has reached its terminal stages. * *

The Brazilian biologist Constança Britto recognized the benefits of early treatment and developed the polymerase chain reaction test, which enables diagnosis in two days. Unfortunately, many don't even know they have the early-stage disease.

Prevention is the key

What precautions can you take when you are in an area where the barber beetle is?

▪ If you sleep in a straw or thatched house, try a mosquito net.

▪ Use insecticides. They reduce the risk of transmission.

▪ Repair cracks and cracks in the walls, as these can be a breeding ground for the barber beetle.

▪ Keep your home clean, including the areas behind photos and furniture.

▪ Occasionally put mattresses and blankets in the sun.

▪ Remember that both wild and domestic animals can be carriers.

▪ If you suspect an insect is a barber beetle, send it to the nearest health center for analysis.

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Written by   13
1 year ago
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Comments

Good one

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1 year ago

Nice post

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1 year ago

Nicely written,good one

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1 year ago

That was amazingly written

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1 year ago

nice written article

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1 year ago

I don't like insects and I'm afraid of them ...

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1 year ago

Nice one

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1 year ago

Just keep writing posts similar to this! This is really great, I like this a lot, and I think that you are a great writer!

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1 year ago

Very interesting post. Keep going

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1 year ago

Awesome article by you

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1 year ago

very interesting and well written .carry on

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1 year ago

Interesting writing lovely

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1 year ago