Dust mites, as you probably know, are microscopic creatures that can cause an array of allergy and asthma problems, especially in children and the elderly. But were you aware we have only known about them since the 1960s? And how they cause allergy problems has only been known for certain since 1988, when research findings were confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO)?
In the 1960s, early researchers in Holland and Japan had theorized that these insects could possibly be a health concern. No one took them seriously. The process to isolate, characterize, and measure an allergen is complicated and composed of many steps.
In the case of these mites, this process took over 20 years!
They originated from somewhere near Australia. They were first reported in 1969 in Canada and in 1970 in the USA. By 1980, they started appearing more frequently and by the 1990s they were everywhere.
One explanation for their late arrival may be that our homes prior to the 1950s and 1960s were not tightly sealed and the accumulated house dust with allergens from the mites could escape, not giving them a chance to breed.
They are microscopic insects. The adults have 8 hairy legs and are approximately 0.3mm in length. 7000 of these creatures can fit on a single fingernail!
They are oval shaped and do not have eyes or antennae. They have a mouth-shaped body part in front of the body and their shell is hard and translucent.
There are 2 main species. One prefers a warmer temperature
than the other but they are often found living together.
Mated females can lay as much as 60 to 100 eggs at a time, usually in small groups of 3 to 5. A 6-legged larva will emerge first. The 8 legged nymph will appear after the first molt. It takes about 1 month for the 8-legged adult to appear.
A male has an average life cycle of 10 to 19 days, while a mated female can last as much as 70 or more days.
It is important to note that dust mites cannot drink and depend on the moisture in the air to survive and breed. During times and areas of low humidity, they tend to band together to try to decrease the surface area of their bodies that are exposed to the air so they will lose less water. If the humidity gets too low, as in winter, the young mites or nymphs will go into hibernation until the humidity rises again.
be found in all climates, but warmer, more humid ones will attract a
larger number of them. And it is no wonder they choose warm, moist areas such as mattresses and pillows when someone is sleeping on them.
They only eat dead tissue and thus are not parasites like other insects. They eat bits of protein they find in the fibers of beds, pillows, carpets, and soft furniture, and can even be found in cars.
Our dead skin cells and those of our animals are their primary food source but they can also live off such items as pet food, cereals, crumbs, fish flakes, and even in birds' nests and in stored grain and straw in barns.
They do not bite or sting and it isn't even the mites themselves that cause allergic reactions. (Although, to picture us sleeping with tens of thousands of them is bad enough!) It is actually their waste or feces that triggers asthmatic and allergic attacks.
Research has revealed this trigger is a microscopic protein in the mite excrement called Der P1. (Other allergens have been discovered as well, such as Der P123.)
An adult mite will produce 200 times its own body weight in feces, or approximately 20 droppings per day during its short lifetime!
As mentioned above, they need the moisture in the air to survive and breed. A pillow and mattress, when someone is sleeping on them will provide the warm, moist environment they need.
The dust in our homes is actually hygroscopic (water seeking and retaining). The natural accumulation of dust in our homes, such as on floor surfaces and in carpets and rugs, can become an attraction for these mites as well. It is their fecal matter and shed skins that make up a large proportion of the material found in house dust. It is often the case that those people who are allergic to house dust will usually have allergic reactions to the mites as well.
Infestations can occur year round. They add to our pollen allergy miseries in the spring, increase their concentrations and feces inside our closed up homes in the fall and winter months, and during warm, wet weather, they reach their peak of multiplying. Just the process of turning on the furnace in the colder months can blast dust and debris, along with the hot air into our home, causing an increased exposure to them.
Allergy symptoms are caused by the antibodies in humans who are allergic to the dust mite protein substances. These antibodies cause the release of histamines. The histamines, in turn, cause nasal congestion and irritation of the upper respiratory passages.
Although there may be a genetic predisposition to dust mite allergies, these allergies can also develop over time in a person previously not allergic if the concentration of the mites and their fecal matter is high.
Some or all of the following symptoms may occur if you are allergic to dust mites:
CAUTION: Allergy testing by a certified Allergist can verify whether a person is reacting to dust mites or has an allergy to another substance, such as pollen, pet dander, or mold, all of which can also be found in house dust.
It would be almost impossible to rid your home of dust mites. The better question might be...How can I avoid or reduce my exposure to their allergens?
Below are some ideas to try if you believe or know you or a member of your family may have a dust mite allergy:
One of the special rug treatments we use for rugs is a dust mite anti-allergen compound derived from naturally occurring extracts found in plants and trees. it works by instantly deactivating the feces allergen of the dust mite by denaturing the substance.
Studies by doctors and universities have demonstrated that when dust mite droppings are treated with the main active ingredient contained in our anti-allergen treatment, the allergens are physically changed, rendering them permanently harmless to people who display allergic symptoms to these allergens.
Eliminating the allergens is the initial priority because the total eradication of the dust mite is virtually impossible.
Please click here for more information about our anti-allergen green cleaning or call our office at 607-272-1566 at your convenience for more information.
Ken and Harriet Adams
Owners of ABC
130 Cecil Malone Drive Ithaca, NY 14850
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