Bejcek, Justin Richard (2018-05). Differentiation among the North American Triatominae Species (Vectors of the Chagas Disease Parasite) and Their Commonly Misidentified Doppelg?ngers. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • Chagas disease is increasingly recognized as a major public health concern in the United States. The disease is caused by infection with the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is spread by blood-sucking insects commonly referred to as kissing bugs (Reduviidae: Triatominae). Limited outreach and educational resources are available regarding Chagas disease for the public and medical or veterinary practitioners that may encounter infected patients. A key challenge, especially in outreach and public health awareness, is differentiating the kissing bug vectors from common look-alike insects that do not feed on blood and do not pose a risk of T. cruzi transmission. The presence of these look-alikes, or Doppelg?ngers, is associated with both psychological and economic consequences, as they cause needless worry among the public and encounters with these insects have led to unwarranted human and canine blood testing for Chagas disease. In my thesis, I developed outreach materials suitable for use by the lay public as well as veterinarians, medical doctors, pest control operators, public health officials, and others to facilitate the identification of kissing bugs. First, I created identification and pictorial guides to North American Triatominae species and their common look-alikes, including a step-by-step dichotomous key to differentiate key anatomical features useful in discriminating species. Next, I developed a process for manufacturing resin-embedded kissing bugs and look-alike species resulting in high quality products that are safe to handle; these specimens will be long-lasting and valuable in outreach programs to show differences in size, shape, and color that photos alone cannot detail

publication date

  • May 2018