Mite allergy and exposure to storage mites and house dust mites in farmers


Dr Marlin Iversen, Lungeklinikken, Aarhus Kommunehospital, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


Sensitization to house dust mites, storage mites and other common inhalation allergens was studied in 144 farmers using SPT and RAST. The study population was selected from a random sample of 808 farmers and consisted of 47 persons who had declared themselves to suffer from asthma, 63 persons who had reported respiratory symptoms, and 34 healthy persons without respiratory symptoms. The most prevalent RAST was towards storage mites and was found in 17% of farmers who suffered from asthma and was estimated to occur in 5% of the random sample of farmers. A positive RAST to house dust mites was found in 17% of farmers who reported to suffer from asthma. Sensitization to pollens, animal dander and grain species was rare. A positive RAST to moulds was not found. There was a strong association between a positive RAST to house dust mites and a positive RAST to storage mites (odds ratio 21.0). A positive RAST to storage mites was significantly associated with living in a dwelling in the past which was recalled as damp (odds ratio 4.9). A high number of house dust mites was found in nearly all dwellings (median count 148 mites/0.1 g dust) and a high number of storage mites was found in some dwellings. This study suggests that in humid and temperate regions of Europe, allergy to storage mites in farmers is not caused exclusively by occupational exposure but damp housing conditions and indoor exposure to storage mites may also be important.