The kissing bugs are exclusively blood suckers and hence important vectors of disease, notably American trypanosomiasis, or Chaga's disease.
Several species of kissing bugs regularly feed on man in the American tropics: [Panstronglyus megistus], [Rhodmus prolix], [Triatoma infestans], and others. The bugs are commonly infected with [Tryponosoma cruzi] which causes Chaga's disease: up to 30% are infected in places where the disease is endemic, in most rural areas of Central and South America, especially in Brazil, Argentina and Chile. The trypanosome which causes the disease is picked up by the bug while sucking blood but is transmitted through the faeces. Faecal contamination may be at the place of the bite or in the conjunctiva of the eye - the bites are often about the face and the faeces are rubbed into the eye. The bugs infest huts and rural dwellings made of mud or adobe, hiding in cracks.