Sunday, November 8, 2009

Answer to Case 92

Well, it turns out that this case is much more complicated than I originally thought. I was going to call this a Reduvid bug, from the Reduviidae family, which includes "Assassin" or "kissing" bugs. Assassin bugs are the vectors of Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi). There are over 135 species in North America, but fortunately, Chagas disease is limited to the southern most portion of the U.S., and is primarily in Central and South America.

However, in showing these photographs to my entomology friends, they comment that this bug may be either a Reduvid bug or one of the leaf-footed bugs (family Coreidae), that has approximately 80 species in N. America. Damsel bugs (Family Nabidae) can look similar too, but are usually small (3mm to 1 cm). Since the insect is no longer available for further examination, I'm afraid that the final identification will remain a mystery.

Fortunately, the 2nd part of my question is easier to answer - how you should advise the patient's physician. Regardless of this bug's identification, it is not likely a vector of human disease, unless it had gotten to New York state by stowing away in someone's luggage from a region that is endemic for Chagas disease. Therefore, you can reassure the physician that this bug does not pose a risk to his or her patient.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Well, like I said before, I've seen them our house. If I happen to find another, I'll try to get it to you without first smashing it to bits.