Kissing bugs yet to cause serious harm in Vietnam: institute

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Blood-sucking bugs that transmit a Latin American disease recently found in Vietnam are yet to show any serious harm here, the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology said Thursday.


In a report to the Ministry of Health the same day, the institute said victims of the kissing bugs have been reported in Hanoi since 2005.


However, so far Vietnam is yet to record any patient infected with the Chagas disease carried by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi living on the bugs, according to the report, adding that the disease, sometimes fatal, has only been recorded in Latin America and Africa.


Those bitten by the bugs in 2005 are still in normal health conditions to date, said Dr. Nguyen Van Chau, a representative of the institute.


The national institute suggested the ministry cooperate with the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, which claimed to have found the bugs living in Hanoi's center and in residential areas in the capital early this week.


Chau blamed climate change for increasing populations of kissing bugs as well as an increase in the number of victims affected by the unlikely killers.


Over the past two days, many people from different localities across the country have reported kissing bug bites to the two institutes.


The bugs were found in Latin American countries in 1979 and have since been studied, but this was the first time communtiies of the insects have been found in specific locations in Vietnam, Truong Xuan Lam, chief of insect department under the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, told the press early this week.


So far, agencies in Vietnam have yet to conduct specific research on the bugs, according to the scientist.


He said Chagas disease first causes sleeping sickness, headache, dizziness and fatigue, which can last for several months.


Many years later infected people will develop chronic symptoms like digestive problems and may even suffer fatal heart failure.

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