Citrus red mite (Panonychus citri) is the most common sensitizing allergen of asthma and rhinitis in citrus farmers

Authors


Kim Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 28 Youngun-dong, Chongno-gu, Seoul 110–744, Korea.

Abstract

Objective

To evaluate type I hypersensitivity to citrus red mite (Panonychus citri), its prevalence, and relationship to respiratory dysfunction, a cross-sectional survey was performed among citrus farmers on Cheju Island, Korea.

Materials and methods

Questionnaires, and skin prick test responses to 11 common inhalant allergens and citrus red mite were performed in 181 citrus farmers, and serum-specific IgE antibodies to citrus red mite were measured by ELISA in sera of 123 subjects. To determine airway hyperresponsiveness, methacholine bronchial provocation tests were performed in 55 subjects who complained of recurrent lower respiratory symptoms.

Results

The prevalence of asthma-based on presence of asthmatic symptoms on the questionnaire and airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine, and allergic rhinitis based on presence of nasal symptoms on the questionnaire and positive skin-test response were 12.1% and 19.3%, respectively. The positive rate of skin responses to one or more of 11 common inhalant allergens excluding citrus red mite was 17.1%, and if citrus red mite was included, 25.9% of farmers had positive responses. On skin prick tests, citrus red mite (16.5%) was the most common sensitizing allergen, followed by cockroach (11.0%), Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (9.9%), and D. farinae (9.3%). Among farmers with asthma and allergic rhinitis, the positive skin responses to citrus red mite were noted in 54.5 and 68.5%, respectively. Serum-specific IgE antibodies to citrus red mite were detected in 45 farmers (36.5%) of the 123 tested, and there was significant correlation between specific IgE level and weal (A/H ratio) to citrus red mite (r = 0.57, P < 0.001). The prevalence of asthma was higher in subjects with positive skin responses or high serum-specific IgE antibodies to citrus red mite than in those without skin response or serum specific IgE (P < 0.05, respectively).

Conclusion

Citrus red mite is the most important allergen in citrus farmers with asthma and rhinitis in which causative allergen has not been identified. It should be included in the skin test battery for screening the causative allergen in farmers exposed to citrus red mite.

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