Intermediate Hosts of Human Parasites

No metazoan parasites of major health importance to humans involve mites as intermediate hosts. However, mites are hosts for a few tapeworms that occasionally infest people. Oribatid mites are intermediate hosts for two Bertiella species of anoplocephalan tapeworms. Bertiella studeri parasitizes the small intestine of a wide range of Old World primates, including rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys, Japanese macaques, baboons, mandrills, gibbons, orangutans, chimpanzees, and occasionally humans in Asia and Africa. Although several European species of oribatid mites have been shown to support development of B. studeri experimentally (Denegri, 1985; Stunkard, 1940), the oribatid species involved in the natural transmission cycle remain unknown. B. mueronata, which parasitizes monkeys in South America, develops in the oribatid mites Dometorina suramerica, Seheloribates atahualpensis, and other species of the genera Achipteria, Galumna, Seheloribates, and Seutovertex (Denegri, 1985; Sengbusch, 1977). In the case of both of these tapeworms, wild primates are the primary vertebrate hosts, with human cases occurring where infested primates live in close association with people. They cause no apparent lesions or other harm to their hosts.

Occasionally humans may be parasitized by tapeworms of the genus Mesocestoides (family Mesocestoididae) which use mammalian carnivores and charadriiform birds as hosts in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Oribatid mites are believed to play a role as intermediate hosts in the relatively complex life cycles of these cestodes.

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