Mites dwelling in house dust have become recognize in the past 50 years as the most important source of allergens in human habitations. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the allergens of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, D. farinae and Euroglyphus maynei are associated with the onset of symptoms of rhinitis, asthma and eczema in people with atopy.
The possible causative relationship between exposure to house dust mite allergen (HDMA) and symptoms of vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) was investigated. VKC patients were evaluated using patient reports of symptoms, physician's observations and assays of sera and tears for total and specific IgE to 10 inhalant allergens common in Israel, including HDMA. House dust samples from the homes of VKC patients were examined monthly for a year. Both the severity of VKC symptoms in HDMA-reactive patients and mite population levels peaked simultaneously in the summer. Our results suggest that exposure to HDMA plays an important role in the aggravation of VKC symptoms in HDMA-reactive patients (Mumcuoglu et al. 1988).
Mite asthma in childhood
The number of house dust mites in the mattresses of asthmatic children was correlated with symptom score, pulmonary function, and airway hyper-reactivity to methacholine. In spite of the high number of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus symptom and treatment scores, as well as PC20 to methacholine, worsened during the months of September and October. It is concluded that when asthmatic children allergic to mites are exposed to high levels of mite allergen, the number of mites in the mattress dust no longer correlate with increased symptoms, and that other factors are more likely to be associated with exacerbation (Kivity et al. 1993).
Asthma in children from Gaza
Three hundred asthmatic children aged 3-15, and 100 age-sex-neighborhood matched controls, were studied for environmental risk factors for asthma. In 98% of the asthmatic patients, exposure to house dust aggravated the symptoms. In 97% of the cases, the symptoms were more severe at home and in more than 50%, the symptoms persisted throughout the year. House dust samples were examined for mites from homes of asthmatic and non-asthmatic children. Although dust and mites seem to be the most important factors causing allergies in Gaza and most of the children are exposed to large numbers of mites in their homes, it appears that those who are genetically predisposed and who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke are at greater risk for allergic symptoms (Mumcuoglu et al. 1994).
Epidemiology of house dust and poultry mites in Israel
A total of 291 house dust samples were systematically collected at 5 different sites in Israel. Ninety-one percent of the samples contained mites. Of the isolated mites, 90% were pyroglyphids, with 75% of these Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, 10.5% D. farinae, and 3.6% Euroglyphus maynei. Dermatophagoides farinae and E. maynei are reported for the first time from Israel, the former almost exclusively from the IranoTuranean phyto-geographic zone. Blomia tropicalis represented 2% of the house dust mite collections but was found only in the Mediterranean phyto-geographic zone. Cheyletidae constituted 5.7% of the house dust mites. The maximum number of house dust mites recorded was 6,500 per gram of house dust. The highest numbers were isolated in samples from humid areas. Twice as many mites were found in sofas as compared to beds, while much lower numbers were isolated from wardrobes and carpets. Relatively low numbers of mites were found in the spring (April) (Feldman-Muhsam et al. 1985).
The correlation between climatic conditions and mite numbers in houses from rural areas was studied in 13 agricultural communities (kibbutz and moshav) in nine geo-climatic sub-regions of Israel. Mites were present in 97% of the dust samples. The average number of mites per gram of dust in the different localities ranged between 84 and 2,053. The maximum number of mites (7,440/g dust) was found in a carpet from a house in Geva Carmel in the northern coastal region. The most prevalent species of mites were Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae, found in 85.6% and 71.3%, of the samples, respectively. The house dust mites (D. pteronyssinus, D. farinae and Euroglyphus maynei) constituted 94.8% of the mites. Most of the mites were isolated from the carpets and sofas (37.0% and 33.7%, respectively), and less from the beds (29.3%). The smallest number of mites (<250/g dust) were found at a minimum relative humidity (RH) of 30% and lower, with a maximum temperature of 32oC and higher, i.e., in the Jordan valley and Negev mountains. A higher number of mites (250-500/g dust) was found at a minimum ambient relative humidity (RH) of 35-40% and a maximum temperature of 32oC and higher, i.e., the Hula valley. A large number of mites (500- 1000/g dust) was found at a minimum RH of 35-40% with a maximum temperature of 30oC and lower, i.e., in Judean and Samarian range as well as in upper Galilee. The largest number of mites (1000-2000/g dust) was found at a minimum RH of 45% and higher, with a maximum temperature ranging between 30-32oC. These conditions occur in the coastal strip, coastal plain and Judean and Samarian foothills. Monthly examination of two houses in Zova, a kibbutz in the Judean Hills next to Jerusalem, and two houses from Palmachim, a kibbutz in the coastal region, revealed that the highest prevalence of mites are found in the months April-November and May-November, respectively. In Zova the highest number of mites were found during the months of June and July while the highest concentrations of D. pteronyssinus-antigen (Der p I) were measured during the month of September. A positive correlation between mite numbers and the quantity of Der p I in house dust was found (Mumcuoglu et al. 1999).
A survey of poultry houses at 35 farms in Israel was conducted over an 18-months period and 240 samples were collected. Mites were present in all poultry houses surveyed; as many as 796 mites/100 mg of dust and 840 mites/100 mg of soil were counted. In dust samples, the most prevalent species were Dermatophagoides evansi (74.4%) and Acarus immobilis (5.6%). In soil samples A. immobilis, D. evansi and Hughesiella africana were the most prevalent species. The mite population in dust and soil samples was significantly higher in September. Significantly higher mite counts were noted in dust samples from the hottest and most arid region of the country. Seventy-two percent of the poultry farms reported the occurrence of workplace-related respiratory diseases (Mumcuoglu & Lutzky, 1990a).
House dust mites on the skin and cloths of patients
To determine the presence of house dust mites on the skin, clothes, and bedding of patients with atopic dermatitis 19 patients with atopic dermatitis were examined during a 2-year period. Samples from affected and healthy skin surfaces were obtained with adhesive tape, and dust samples from bedding and clothes were collected with a vacuum cleaner at the start of the study and 3-6 weeks later, and examined for the presence of house dust mites. The findings were compared with those of 21 healthy controls. The most common mite species on skin were Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae, which were found in nine patients and three controls. The patient group showed a significantly larger percentage of samples with mites than did the control group (34.9% and 7.9%, respectively) (P < 0.001), and a significantly larger percentage of individuals with at least one positive sample (84.2% and 14.2%, respectively) (P < 0.0001). No correlation was found between the number of mites on the skin and clothes/bedding of patients, or between patients and controls with regard to the number of mites on the clothes and bedding. Patients with atopic dermatitis showed a higher prevalence of mites on their skin than did healthy individuals, which could be involved in allergic sensitization and disease exacerbation (Teplinsky et al. 2008).
Control of house dust mites
Antibiotics were tested for the control of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. Sulfaquinoxaline 30% in the culture medium killed all the mites within 3 weeks, 30 mg/100 mg of culture medium of declomycin, tetracycline HCl, aureomycin and oxytetracycline killed 94.6%, 58.9% and 52%, respectively of the mites in 3 weeks. Cessation of feeding and impaired coordination were observed in mite cultures 24 hrs after the application of sulfaquinoxaline and no eggs were found a week later (Mumcuoglu & Schlein, 1978).
Copper oxide (CuO) has broad-spectrum anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. The aim of this study was to test the acaricidal efficacy of CuO-impregnated fabrics on the common house dust mite, Dermatophagoides farinae. The overall vitality/mobility of the mites was reduced when they were exposed to the CuO-impregnated fabrics and, when possible, the dust mites migrated to fabrics where no CuO was present. The mortality of mites exposed for 10 days to fabrics containing 0.2% (w/w) CuO was significantly higher than the mortality of mites on control fabrics (72 + 4 and 18.9 + 0.3%, respectively). The mortality reached 95.4 and 100% with fabrics containing 0.4 and 2% CuO after 47 and 5 days, respectively. The acaricidal effect of copper oxide seems to be due to direct toxicity. The use of fabrics containing copper oxide may thus be an important avenue for reducing house dust mite populations, and for reducing the load of dust mite allergens (Mumcuoglu et al. 2008).
House dust mites (HDMs) of the genera Dermatophagoides and Euroglyphus are the most important allergens in human habitations to which ca. 7% of the human population in developed countries become allergic. The allergens are excreted through their feces and the control of mites and the elimination of the produced allergens could alleviate and allergic symptoms. For this purpose, the relative humidity should be kept below 50% at home, as higher humidity enhances the development of HDMs. The biggest attention should be given to the bedroom, and especially to the bed. Mattresses, upholstered furniture, and heavy carpets are the most important biotopes of HDMs and should be regularly vacuumed, treated with acaricides and/or exposed to sunlight. Allergen-tight sheets and pillow covers which do not permit the allergens existing on the mattress or pillows to come in direct contact with the patient should be used. Sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bedcovers should be washed every 2-3 weeks at 60°C and above. Heat will kill dust mites and neutralize a large part of the allergens. The floor should be fitted with tiles, wood, linoleum or vinyl material, and not with wall-to-wall carpets. Heavy carpets, especially those made from wool should be removed from the bedroom. Any object which is not being used on a regular basis and could collect dust, should be removed, washed regularly or kept in allergen-tight plastic bags (Mumcuoglu & TaylanOzkan, 2020).
Life-cycle of poultry mites
Dermatophagoides evansi was cultured in a medium composed of chicken skin or human skin scales plus powdered baker’s yeast at a temperature of 25-27oC and 75-80% RH. The mean duration in days for each stage of the mite life-cycle was: egg 8.3; larva 4.7; protonymph 5.4; tritonymph 6.6; male 28.9 and female 52.9. The average time required for completion of one generation was 28.7 days. The female was oviparous and laid an average of 35.5 eggs during her lifetime; parthenogenesis was not observed. The male:female ratio was 1.2:1 (Mumcuoglu & Lutzky, 1990b).
New mite species in house dust
A new species of mite, Cheyletus tenuipilis, was found in the house dusts of Belgium, Switzerland and Israel (Fain et al. 1980).
Fain, A., B. Feldman-Muhsam & K.Y. Mumcuoglu. 1980. Cheyletus tenuipilis (n. sp.) (Acari:Cheyletidae), a new mite from houses in Western Europe and Israel (in French). Bull. Ann. Soc. R. Belge Ent. 116:35-44.
Feldman-Muhsam, B., K.Y. Mumcuoglu & T. Osterovich. 1985. A survey of house dust mites (Acari: Pyroglyphidae and Cheyletidae) in Israel. J. Med. Entomol. 22:663-669.
Kivity, S., A. Solomon, R. Soferman, Y. Schwarz, K.Y. Mumcuoglu & M. Topilsky. 1993. Mite asthma in childhood: A study of the relationship between exposure to house dust mites and disease activity. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 91:844-849.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. & Y. Schlein. 1978. Sulfaquinoxaline, a possible means for the control of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. Revue Suisse Zool. 85:635-640.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. & I. Lutzky. 1990a. A prevalence survey of poultry mites in Israel. Acarologia 31:51-56.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. & I. Lutzky. 1990b. The life-cycle of Dermatophagoides evansi Fain, 1967 (Acari: Pyroglyphidae), a mite associated with poultry. Acarologia 31:191-194. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. & A. Taylan-Ozkan. 2020. Preventive measures to avoid contact with house dust mites and their allergens. Acarol Studies 2 (1): 1-6.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y., A. Zavaro, S. Zemira & Z. Lazarowitz. 1988. House dust mites and vernal keratoconjunctivitis. Ophthalmologica 196:175-181.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y., Y. Abed, B. Armenios, S. Shaheen, J. Jacobs, S. Bar-Sela & E. Richter. 1994. Asthma in children of refugee camps in Gaza and its relationship with house dust mites. Ann. Allergy 72: 163-166.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y., Z. Gat, T. Horowitz, J. Miller, R. Bar-Tana, A. Ben-Zvi & Y. Naparstek. 1999. Abundance of house dust mites in relation to climate in contrasting agricultural settlements in Israel. Med. Vet. Entomol. 13: 252-258.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y., J. Gabbay & G. Borkow. 2008. Copper oxide impregnated fabrics for the control of house dust mites. Inter. J. Pest Manag. 54: 235-240.
Teplinsky, V., K.Y. Mumcuoglu, I. Babai, I. Dalal, R. Cohen & A. Tanay. 2008. House dust mites on skin, clothes and bedding of atopic dermatitis patients. Intnl. J. Dermatol. 47: 790-795.
Additional publications on this subject
Dvorak, J., K.Y. Mumcuoglu, U. Venetz & M. Waelti. 1988. Allergy and asthma (in German). Birkhaeuser Verlag, Basel, pp. 156.
Hockenjos, P., K.Y. Mumcuoglu & H. Gerber. 1981. The importance of hay mites in allergic lung diseases of horses (in German). Schweiz. Arch. Tierheilk. 123:129-136.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1974. Are mites the cause of asthma? (in German). Revue Suisse Zool. 81:3-12.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1975. Studies on the biology of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. II. Prevalence of mites in different regions in Switzerland and their correlation to the climates (in German). Schweiz. Med. Wschr. 105:1013-1020.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1976. House dust mites in Switzerland. I. Distribution and taxonomy. J. Med. Entomol. 13:361-373.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1976. Studies on the biology of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Trouessart, 1897) (Acarina:Astigmata). I. Colonization of the mites on new mattresses (in German). Allergie und Immunol. 22:127- 131.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1976. House dust mites in Switzerland, their allergenic properties and control (in German). PhD Thesis, Univ. of Basel, pp. 141.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1977. House dust mites in Switzerland. II. Culture and control. Intl. J. Acarol. 3:19-25.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1977. Immunological studies on house dust and house dust mites. I. Schulz-Dale test (in German). Allergie und Immunol. 23:107-110.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1977. House dust mites in Switzerland. III. Allergenic properties of the mites. Acta Allergol. 32:333-349.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1979. Activity of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Trouessart, 1897) Acarina:Astigmata) at different temperatures and humidity (in German). Proc. IV. Intern. Congr. Acarology, Saalfelden, Austria, p.341-345.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1979. Immunological studies on house dust and house dust mites. III. A simplified basophile-degranulation test (in German). Allergie und Immunol. 25:70-74.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1979. House dust and mite allergy (in German). Naturw. Rundschau 32:54-57.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1983. House dust allergy and house dust mites (in German). Inf. Arzt 11:46-54.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1988. Biology and ecology of house dust mites (in German). Allergologie 11:223-228.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. and E. Gerber-Hobl. 1977. The importance of house dust and storedfood mites as allergens of house dust in rural areas (in German). Schweiz. Med. Wschr. 107:1909-1912.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. & T. Rufli. 1981. Dermatological Entomology. 27. Pyroglyphidae/House dust mites (in German). Schweiz Rundschau Med. 70:1039-1049.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. & T. Rufli. 1979. Localization of the antigen in the body of the housedust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus by means of the indirect immunofluorescence test. Recent Advances in Acarology, Rodriguez, J.G. (ed), Vol. II. pp. 205-210.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y. & E. Stix. 1974. Airborne mites (in German). Revue Suisse Zool. 81:673-677.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y., L. Henning & R. Guggenheim. 1973. REM-studies on the house dust and asthma mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Trouessart, 1897)(Acarina:Astigmata) (in German). Experientia 29:1405-1408.
Mumcuoglu, K.Y., R. Guggenheim & L. Henning. 1973. REM-studies on Cheyletus eruditus (Schrank, 1781) (Acarina, Cheyletidae) (in German). Acarologia 15:644-648.
Rufli, T. & K.Y. Mumcuoglu. 1981. Dermatological entomology. 32. Arthropods as a cause of allergic diseases (in German). Schweiz. Rundschau Med. 70:2038-2041.
Sepasgosarian, H. & K.Y. Mumcuoglu. 1979. Faunistic and ecological studies on house dust mites in Iran (in German). Intl. J. Acarol. 5:131-138.
Somorin, A.O., O.O. Hunponu-Wuse, K.Y. Mumcuoglu & D.C. Heiner. 1978. Mite allergy in Nigerians: Studies on house dust mites in houses of allergic patients in Lagos. Irish J. Med. Science 147:26-30.