Background Knowledge of the occurrence of house dust mites (HDM) and their allergens in domestic locations is important when planning intervention.
Objective The aim of this study was to describe the distribution of HDMs and their allergens before intervention in multiple locations in the homes of newly diagnosed HDM-allergic patients with a known high Der 1 concentration in their mattress dust.
Methods Dust was collected from ten locations in the homes of eight HDM-allergic patients. Dust was analysed for allergen content with ELISAs for Der f 1, Der p 1 and Der m 1; and HDM were counted. Total allergen concentrations (µg Der 1/g dust) were expressed as the sum of Der f 1, Der p 1 and Der m 1.
Results On mattresses the median concentration was 86 µg Der 1/g dust (range 30–288) and 188 mites/g dust (range 12–1910). Der 1 exceeded 10 µg/g dust in mattresses (8/8), duvets/pillows (3/8), a bedroom carpet (1/1), a living room carpet (1/6), upholstered furniture (2/8) and a curtain (1/5). Uncarpeted floors, upholstered furniture, bookshelves and walls had significantly lower Der 1 concentration than the mattresses. The relative contribution of Der p 1, Der f 1 or Der m 1 to Der 1 was related to homes, rather than to the location. Der m 1 only occurred in minute amounts.
Conclusion For HDM intervention, our results indicate that priority should be given to the removal of allergens from mattresses, and in addition from carpets, duvets/pillows and upholstered furniture. Dust from walls, uncarpeted floors, bookshelves and curtains appear to contribute insignificantly to the domestic HDM allergen load.