“I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus, underneath the mistletoe last night”. So opens the iconic holiday number composed by Tommie Connor and made famous by the likes of Jimmy Boyd, The Ronettes and the Jackson Five. In Texas, Santa may not be the only bugger looking for an opportunistic kiss. “’Kissing bug’ infections remain a problem in Texas, reports suggest” warns a Fox News Health article; “reports in Texas suggest the growing problem of Chagas disease, a potentially life-threatening condition transmitted by triatomine bugs, or “kissing bugs,” is not improving in the state this year.” According to the CDC, Chagas disease affects 6 million to 7 million people worldwide in which “the initial, acute phase lasts for about 2 months after infection. During the acute phase, a high number of parasites (Trypanosoma cruzi) circulate in the blood but in most cases symptoms are absent or mild. In less than 50% of people bitten by a triatomine bug, characteristic first visible signs can be a skin lesion or a purplish swelling of the lids of one eye, and they can present fever, headache, enlarged lymph glands, pallor, muscle pain, difficulty in breathing, swelling and abdominal or chest pain” The CDC goes on to emphazises that in “the chronic phase, the parasites are hidden mainly in the heart and digestive muscles,…patients suffer from cardiac disorders and…from digestive (typically enlargement of the oesophagus or colon), neurological or mixed alterations. And that, “in later years the infection can lead to sudden death or heart failure caused by progressive destruction of the heart muscle and its nervous system.” The Fox News Health article encourages; “while Texas officials are aware of the growing problem in the state, they are urging anyone who begins exhibiting flu-like symptoms and believes they have been bitten to contact the Texas Department of State Health Services for testing.” So before hanging that mistletoe in a suitable spot, be sure to shake it out real well if you live in Texas and stay away from kissing buggers! Happy holidays!