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Abundance of house dust mites in relation to climate in contrasting agricultural settlements in Israel

Authors


Dr Kosta Y. Mumcuoglu, Department of Parasitology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, P.O. Box 12272, 91120 Jerusalem, Israel. E-mail: kostam@cc.huji.ac.il

Summary

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 2053. The maximum number of mites (7440/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, which were 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 a smaller number from 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 32°C and higher, i.e. in the Jordan valley and Negev mountains. A greater number of mites (250–500/g dust) were found at a minimum ambient RH of 35–40% and a maximum temperature of 32°C and higher, i.e. the Hula valley. A large number of mites (500–1000/g dust) were found at a minimum RH of 35–40% with a maximum temperature of 30°C and lower, i.e. in the 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 and 32°C. These conditions occur in the coastal strip, the coastal plain and in the Judean and Samarian foothills. A 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 was 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.

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