The European house dust mite, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus

Mites dwelling in house dust have become recognize in the past 35 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.

Our team has been working with the following aspects of house dust mite allergy:

a. Keratoconjunctivitis

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 (A 29)

b. 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 hyperreactivity to methacholine. In spite of the high number of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinussymptom 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 (A 48).

c. Asthma in children

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 fractors 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 (A 50).

d. House dust mites in rural areas

The correlation between climatic conditions and mite numbers in houses from rural areas was studied in 13 agricultural communities (kibbutzim and moshavim) in nine geo-climatic subregions 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 (A 70).

e. Control of mites with copper-oxide impregnated fabrics

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 containing 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 containing 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 and control fabrics not containing CuO was 72±4% and 18.9±0.3, respectively (p<0.001). 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 via direct toxicity. The usage of fabrics containing copper oxide may thus be an important avenue for killing the house dust mite and reducing the load of dust mite allergens (A 112).

f. Mites on the skin of patients with atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a common allergic condition of children, often associated with a positive skin reaction to house dust mite allergens. Nineteen patients with atopic dermatitis were examined during a period of two years. Samples from affected and healthy skin surfaces were obtained with adhesive tape while 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. 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 9 patients and 3 controls. The patient group had a significantly larger percentage of samples with mites than the control group (34.9% and 7.9%, respectively) (p<0.001), and a significantly higher percentage of individuals with at least one positive sample (84.2% and 14.2%, respectively) (p<0.0001) (A 113).

Additional publications on this subject: A 1-13, A 15, A 16, A 18, A 19, A 21, A 26, A 32, A 33, B 1, B 3, C 1, C 8, C 34, C 39, C 43, C 46


A 1. Mumcuoglu, K.Y., L. Henning and R. Guggenheim. 1973. REM‑studies on the house dust and asthma mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Trouessart, 1897)(Acarina:Astigmata) (in German). Experientia 29:1405‑1408.

A 2. Mumcuoglu, K.Y., R. Guggenheim and L. Henning. 1973. REM‑studies on Cheyletus eruditus (Schrank, 1781) (Acarina, Cheyletidae) (in German). Acarologia 15:644‑648.

A 3. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. and E. Stix. 1974. Airborne mites (in German). Revue Suisse Zool. 81:673‑677.

A 4. 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.

A 5. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1976. House dust mites in Switzerland. I. Distribution and taxonomy. J. Med. Entomol. 13:361‑373.

A 6. 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.

A 7. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1977. House dust mites in Switzerland. II. Culture and control. Intl. J. Acarol. 3:19‑25.

A 8. 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.

A 9. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. and E. Gerber‑Hobl. 1977. The importance of house dust and stored‑food mites as allergens of house dust in rural areas (in German). Schweiz. Med. Wschr. 107:1909‑1912.

A 10. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1977. House dust mites in Switzerland. III. Allergenic properties of the mites. Acta Allergol. 32:333‑349.

A 11. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. and Y. Schlein. 1978. Sulfaquinoxaline, a possible means for the control of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. Revue Suisse Zool. 85:635‑640.

A 12. Somorin, A.O., O.O. Hunponu‑Wuse, K.Y. Mumcuoglu and 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.

A 13. Sepasgosarian, H. and K.Y. Mumcuoglu. 1979. Faunistic and ecological studies on house dust mites in Iran (in German). Intl. J. Acarol. 5:131‑138.

A 15. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1979. Activity of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Trouessart, 1897) Acarina:Astigmata) at different temperatures and humidities (in German). Proc. IV. Intern. Congr. Acarology, Saalfelden, Austria, p.341‑345.

A 16. 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.

A 18. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. and T. Rufli. 1979. Localization of the antigen in the body of the house‑dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus by means of the indirect immunofluorescence test. Recent Advances in Acarology, Rodriguez, J.G. (ed), Vol. II. pp. 205‑210.

A 19.Fain, A., B. Feldman‑Muhsam and K.Y. Mumcuoglu. 1980. Cheyletus tenuipilis (n. sp.) (Acari:Cheyletidae), a new mite from houses in Westesr Europe and Israel (in French). Bull. Ann. Soc. R. Belge Ent. 116:35‑44.

A 21. Hockenjos, P., K.Y. Mumcuoglu and H. Gerber. 1981. The importance of hay mites in allergic lung diseases of horses (in German). Schweiz. Arch. Tierheilk. 123:129‑136.

A 26. Feldman‑Muhsam, B., K.Y. Mumcuoglu and T. Osterovich. 1985. A survey of house dust mites (Acari:Pyroglyphidae and Cheyletidae) in Israel. J. Med. Entomol. 22:663‑669.

A 29. Mumcuoglu, K.Y., A. Zavaro, S. Zemira and Z. Lazarowitz. 1988. House dust mites and vernal keratoconjunctivitis. Ophthalmologica 196:175‑181.

A 32. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. and I. Lutzky. 1990. A prevalence survey of poultry mites in Israel. Acarologia 31:51‑56.

A 33. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. and I. Lutzky. 1990. The life‑cycle of Dermatophagoides evansi Fain, 1967 (Acari:Pyroglyphidae), a mite associated with poultry. Acarologia 31:191‑194.

A 112. Mumcuoglu, K.Y., J. Gabbay & G. Borkow. 2008. Copper oxide impregnated fabrics for the control of house dust mites. International Journal of Pest Management 54: 235-240.

A 113. 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.

A 48. 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.

A 50. 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.

A 70. 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.

B 1. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1976. House dust mites in Switzerland, their allergenic properties and control (in German). PhD Thesis, Univ. of Basel, pp. 141.

B 3. Dvorak, J., K.Y. Mumcuoglu, U. Venetz and M. Waelti. 1988. Allergy and asthma (in German). Birkhaeuser Verlag, Basel, pp. 156.

C 1. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1974. Are mites the cause of asthma ? (in German). Revue Suisse Zool. 81:3‑12.

C 8. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1979. House dust and mite allergy (in German).Naturw. Rundschau 32:54‑57.

C 34. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. and T. Rufli.1981.Dermatological entomology. 27. Pyroglyphidae/House dust mites (in German). Schweiz Rundschau Med. 70:1039‑1049.

C 39. Rufli, T. and K.Y. Mumcuoglu. 1981.Dermatological entomology. 32. Arthropods as a cause of allergic diseases (in German). Schweiz. Rundschau Med. 70:2038‑2041.

C 43. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1983. House dust allergy and house dust mites (in German). Inf. Arzt 11:46‑54.

C 46. Mumcuoglu, K.Y. 1988. Biology and ecology of house dust mites (in German). Allergologie 11:223‑228.