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The 1899 United States Kissing Bug Epidemic.

Garcia MN, Hernandez D, Gorchakov R, Murray KO, Hotez PJ - PLoS Negl Trop Dis (2015)

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Pediatrics, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America.

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Carlos Chagas is credited with the discovery of Chagas disease because of his 1909 published findings of the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite isolated in the blood of a Brazilian patient... What we unearthed was an unexpected “outbreak” of kissing bug assaults that were reported in newspapers across the nation... Ten years before Carlos Chagas described Chagas disease (in 1909), the US experienced a multi-city hysteria caused by the routine, nightly bites of the “kissing bug” that resulted in numerous hospitalizations and even a few deaths... More than sixty newspaper articles were published that referenced over 100 cases, with The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlanta Constitution, the Boston Daily Globe, and the Chicago Daily Tribune newspapers publishing the majority of the relevant articles. (Of notable interest, patients’ names, ages, and residential addresses were published in the newspaper alongside their accounts.) The bug responsible for these attacks was anecdotally referred to as the “kissing bug,” “Hobson bug,” and “Dorsey Foultz bug”... Howard, Chief of the Division of Entomology of the United States Department of Agriculture, began his investigation of the veritable kissing bug... In a manuscript published in November of 1899, he concluded that the authentic species was likely one of six possible insect species... In this report, he detailed the knowledge of the time regarding the Reduvius personatus, Melanotestis picipes, Coriscus subcoleoptratus, Rasatus thoracicus, Rasatus biguttatus, and Conorhinus sanguisugus... As seen in Fig 2, the Conorhinus sanguisugus closely resembles the modern-day triatomine vector associated with Chagas disease... Dr. Howard noted the Conorhinus sanguisugus as having five additional related species that were previously collected by scientists throughout the southern and western states (C. dimidiatus, C. gerstaeckeri, C. protractus Uhl., C. rubro-fasciatus, and C. variegatus). (Note that the names Triatoma and Conorhinus referred to the same genus and were used interchangeably during the 1800s and early 1900s .) This species was also described as sucking the blood of people and other mammals; in addition, patients experienced recovery times of up to one year post-bite... This publishing flurry from the summer of 1899 begs the question of whether Chagas disease has historically been endemic in the United States... Undoubtedly, several different insects were implicated in the epidemic, and the genuine triatomine vector was not associated with all reported bites... Sadly, we may never know the answer... For now, sleep tight…don’t let the kissing bugs bite.

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Geographic distribution of reported kissing bug bite accounts in 1899.
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pntd.0004117.g001: Geographic distribution of reported kissing bug bite accounts in 1899.

Mentions: Between June and July of 1899, reports of kissing bug victims were rampant across the continental US (Fig 1). More than sixty newspaper articles were published that referenced over 100 cases, with The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlanta Constitution, the Boston Daily Globe, and the Chicago Daily Tribune newspapers publishing the majority of the relevant articles. (Of notable interest, patients’ names, ages, and residential addresses were published in the newspaper alongside their accounts.) The bug responsible for these attacks was anecdotally referred to as the “kissing bug,” “Hobson bug,” and “Dorsey Foultz bug” [17]. Despite the ambiguous nature of the newly emerging epidemic, early reports from local entomologists identified the insects that were being brought in by afflicted patients as belonging to the Reduviid family [18–20].


The 1899 United States Kissing Bug Epidemic.

Garcia MN, Hernandez D, Gorchakov R, Murray KO, Hotez PJ - PLoS Negl Trop Dis (2015)

Geographic distribution of reported kissing bug bite accounts in 1899.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4697797&req=5

pntd.0004117.g001: Geographic distribution of reported kissing bug bite accounts in 1899.
Mentions: Between June and July of 1899, reports of kissing bug victims were rampant across the continental US (Fig 1). More than sixty newspaper articles were published that referenced over 100 cases, with The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlanta Constitution, the Boston Daily Globe, and the Chicago Daily Tribune newspapers publishing the majority of the relevant articles. (Of notable interest, patients’ names, ages, and residential addresses were published in the newspaper alongside their accounts.) The bug responsible for these attacks was anecdotally referred to as the “kissing bug,” “Hobson bug,” and “Dorsey Foultz bug” [17]. Despite the ambiguous nature of the newly emerging epidemic, early reports from local entomologists identified the insects that were being brought in by afflicted patients as belonging to the Reduviid family [18–20].

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Pediatrics, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America.

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

Carlos Chagas is credited with the discovery of Chagas disease because of his 1909 published findings of the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite isolated in the blood of a Brazilian patient... What we unearthed was an unexpected “outbreak” of kissing bug assaults that were reported in newspapers across the nation... Ten years before Carlos Chagas described Chagas disease (in 1909), the US experienced a multi-city hysteria caused by the routine, nightly bites of the “kissing bug” that resulted in numerous hospitalizations and even a few deaths... More than sixty newspaper articles were published that referenced over 100 cases, with The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlanta Constitution, the Boston Daily Globe, and the Chicago Daily Tribune newspapers publishing the majority of the relevant articles. (Of notable interest, patients’ names, ages, and residential addresses were published in the newspaper alongside their accounts.) The bug responsible for these attacks was anecdotally referred to as the “kissing bug,” “Hobson bug,” and “Dorsey Foultz bug”... Howard, Chief of the Division of Entomology of the United States Department of Agriculture, began his investigation of the veritable kissing bug... In a manuscript published in November of 1899, he concluded that the authentic species was likely one of six possible insect species... In this report, he detailed the knowledge of the time regarding the Reduvius personatus, Melanotestis picipes, Coriscus subcoleoptratus, Rasatus thoracicus, Rasatus biguttatus, and Conorhinus sanguisugus... As seen in Fig 2, the Conorhinus sanguisugus closely resembles the modern-day triatomine vector associated with Chagas disease... Dr. Howard noted the Conorhinus sanguisugus as having five additional related species that were previously collected by scientists throughout the southern and western states (C. dimidiatus, C. gerstaeckeri, C. protractus Uhl., C. rubro-fasciatus, and C. variegatus). (Note that the names Triatoma and Conorhinus referred to the same genus and were used interchangeably during the 1800s and early 1900s .) This species was also described as sucking the blood of people and other mammals; in addition, patients experienced recovery times of up to one year post-bite... This publishing flurry from the summer of 1899 begs the question of whether Chagas disease has historically been endemic in the United States... Undoubtedly, several different insects were implicated in the epidemic, and the genuine triatomine vector was not associated with all reported bites... Sadly, we may never know the answer... For now, sleep tight…don’t let the kissing bugs bite.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus