KISS OF DEATH?

KISS­ING BUGS HYS­TE­RIA

History Revealed - - TOP TEN… MASS HYSTERIA EVENTS -

A “news­pa­per epi­demic” was the best de­scrip­tion of the wave of panic across the north­east United States in 1899. On 20 June, James McEl­hone of

The Washington Post claimed ‘kiss­ing bugs’ – so-called for bit­ing peo­ple on the lips – posed a plague-like dan­ger. Sud­denly, ev­ery mark and blem­ish on the skin looked like a life-threat­en­ing bite and, with no cred­i­ble signs of any bugs, the tales grew in­creas­ingly wild. An al­leged suf­ferer claimed to have seen a kiss­ing bug with a head like a rat and two fangs.

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