TX San Antonio Humane Society: Chagas disease

San Antonio Humane Society says Chagas disease possible in local dogs

By Cathy M. Rosenthal :                  Friday, September 20, 2013

Chagas disease is caused by a parasite known as Trypanosoma Cruzi, which can be carried by the Triatomine Bug or “Kissing Bug.” The San Antonio Humane Society has said they have seen three possible cases of the disease in dogs.(Photo from CDC)

The San Antonio Humane Society (SAHS) has seen three possible cases of Chagas disease in dogs over the past nine months – a disease that can impact both humans and dogs.

Chagas disease is caused by a parasite known as Trypanosoma Cruzi, which can be carried by the Triatomine Bug or “kissing bug.” Health officials say the bug feeds on blood at night and are called kissing bugs because they like to bite humans around the mouth or eyes.

Texas A&M researchers advise not touching the insect with your bare hands and washing your hands if you do. Even if the bug doesn’t carry the disease, the bite can cause an allergic reaction similar to other insects.

Dogs also can contract the disease by eating the bugs, according to the SAHS, and from ingesting the feces of infected animals, like an armadillo, possum or raccoon, according to PetMD.

While more common in South and Central America, there are increased reports of the Chagas disease in North America, typically in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia, according to the CDC.

So far, there have been no human reported cases of the disease in Texas, but it has been found in a handful of dogs, according to researchers at Texas A&M who are leading a study to determine the insect pests’ current range in the southern U.S.

Chagas disease may be asymptomatic (no symptoms) in dogs until the disease is in the latter stages. Among the many symptoms, congestive heart failure is the most serious and the one that can lead to death for many dogs. Here are other symptoms to watch for in your dog.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Diarrhea
  • Depress
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Jerking movements or seizures
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Congestive heart failure


The SAHS recommends:

  • Keeping your dogs inside at night since kissing bugs are nocturnal.
  • Elevating any outdoor dog houses.
  • And, eliminating excess brush and shrubbery in the yard.



Contact the Texas A&M research team if you think you’ve seen a kissing bug or want to submit a bug for testing. Make sure to store the bug in a plastic bag or container, note where and when it was found, and what it was doing at the time (flying, walking, etc.).

Additional information can be found online at: