We already have mosquitoes and ticks to worry about here in Ocean County, but could a disease-causing scourge of the Southern U.S. be headed to the Garden State next?

According to NJ.com, triatomine bugs, more commonly called "kissing bugs" and seen throughout the southern states, may be making New Jersey their next stop.

As with ticks carrying Lyme and mosquitoes carrying, well, a number of nasty things, kissing bug feces can carry the parasite that causes Chagas disease, which can lead to serious heart problems.

While the bugs are most common in South America, Central America, and the Southern U.S., a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map lists the Garden State as a "potential" location for the blood-sucking critters:

(Photo via CDC.gov)

The NJ.com article quotes Rutgers New Jersey Medical School professor Dr. Vivian Bellofatto as saying that the bugs could be heading to our neighborhoods next because, "...winters are less cold and our summers are hotter"  than they used to be, leading to states like New Jersey being more hospitable to the bugs than in the past.

The CDC website has a number of photos of triatomine bugs, you can click here to familiarize yourself with what they look like, and get some tips on safeguards that you can take to keep the nasty critters at bay.

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