Canines across the state of Texas are becoming infected with a parasite that causes a potentially deadly disease in people, scientists reported Wednesday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Although the dogs aren't spreading the parasite directly to people, they are helping to make the disease more prevalent in the southern United States. (Not to mention the parasite can make dogs sick and even kill them.) The disease is called Chagas. And it's transmitted by an insect known as the kissing bug. But in the past decade, researchers have found evidence that Chagas' disease is spreading locally in Texas and around New Orleans. The new study in dogs points up how widespread the problem is, says UTMB microbiologist Nisha Jain Garg. "It shows that active transmission is going on in the U.S.," says Jain, who wasn't involved with this research. "Having infections in dogs in the U.S. serves a role in maintaining the infection cycle of Chagas' disease."