Storage Mites

People who handle mite-infested stored products may become sensitized to the mites on subsequent contact, resulting in an immunological response called storage-mite allergy. Although the precise nature of the allergens is unknown, these substances include components of both live and dead mites and material produced in the mite alimentary tract. Sensitized persons may experience either contact dermatitis or respiratory allergy, depending on the type of exposure.

Allergic contact dermatitits results from exposure to mites in grains, dried fruits, flour, and other stored products, causing itching and redness at the contact sites. The families of mites most commonly involved are the Acaridae, Carpoglyphidae, and Glycyphagidae. In addition, what was probably Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, but reported as D. scheremetewski (Pyroglyphidae), has been associated with cases of feather pillow dermatitis. Contact with this mite infesting feather pillows is known to cause red papular lesions and pruritus about the scalp, eyes, ears, and nostrils (Aylesworth and Baldridge, 1983; Traver, 1951). A similar allergenic response to D. fari-nae associated with buckwheat-husk pillows has been reported in China (Hong et al., 1987).

Inhalational allergy results when airborne mites and associated allergens are drawn into the respiratory tract. The mucosal membranes lining the nasal and bronchial passages become irritated and inflamed, causing allergic rhinitis and asthma. The mucous membranes lining the eyelids also may be affected, causing conjunctivitis. These responses involve a T-cell—type reaction and both immediate and delayed hypersensitivity. Such reactions to mites present an occupational hazard, especially among farmers and other agricultural workers who handle mite-infested grains and other stored materials. Among the more common storage mites that cause inhalational allergy are Aleuroglyphus ovatus and Tyrophagus putrescentiae (Acaridae), Lepidoglyphus destructor (Glycyphagidae), and Blomia tropicalis (Echimyopodidae). For further information on storage-mite allergy, see Cuthbert (1990).

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