SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A blood-sucking insect that bites your face could be found in your backyard.

Kelly McGowan, who works for the Springfield Greene Botanical Center, says the “kissing” bug is about an inch long and feeds off of humans and animals. She says this bug can also carry a parasite that can lead to a serious disease.

The American Heart Association says the disease can develop into heart disease, including heart failure, stroke or life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia.

“We do have kissing bugs in the Ozarks, but no known cases of them carrying the parasite that causes Chagas disease,” says McGowan.

McGowan says the bugs tend to bite at night if they get into your house. She says its best not to smash the bug because if it does contain the parasite then you can get that on your skin. She recommends putting the bug in a baggie and putting it in the freezer. One of the best ways to prevent yourself outside is to use bug spray.

“As far as being inside of your home its best to seal up any holes in screens or cracks around doors or any places insects are going ot be able to get into your house,” says McGowan.

If you do believe you have been bitten by this bug, McGowan recommends contacting your doctor.

“This is a very rare disease and the chances are very low of you contracting something like this and we are pretty fortunate enough to live in the Ozarks, its such a beautiful area don’t let the fear of a rare disease keep you from spending time outdoors,” says McGowan.

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