Allergy to mites in animals
Mites are small arthropods, smaller than 0.3mm in size, of the ticks and spiders family. Specifically, the mites which cause most allergies are the dust mites (Dermatophagus pteronlyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae) and the storage mites (Tyrophagus putrescentiae, Lepidoglyphus destructor and Acarus siro).
Dust mites owe their name to their favourite source of food being skin scales (dermato-skin, phagos-eat, "skin eaters"). Their normal living conditions are temperatures of 20ºC and a relative humidity higher than 70%. They are found in pillows, mattresses and carpets in houses. The concentration of mites in houses increases when the seasons change (spring, autumn) with rains and gentle temperatures, and usually decrease during the summer (dry, hot climate) and winter months (cold and dry climate). The allergens in the mites which most often cause allergies are both the mite's body and its faeces.
Storage mites are very common in dry stored foods (dry feed, cereals, pulses, seeds, fruits) and especially in foods high in fat and proteins. Inside houses they are mostly found in the kitchen and the bathroom, as the environmental humidity is good for them.
Advice for reducing domestic exposure to mites
- Take up the carpets or rugs in the house, especially from the animal's bed, or use small rugs which can be washed.
- Animal bed material containing wool, cotton, horsehair or feathers should be replaced with synthetic materials.
- Wash the animal's bedclothes with hot water (<60°C) every 15 days.
- Ventilate the house every day and vacuum the area where the animal sleeps at least once a week.
- In the daily house cleaning, an ectoparasitocide can be added to the vacuum cleaner's bag. Use the vacuum cleaner when the animal is not there.
- Use acaricide products every 3 months in the places in the house where the animal might go.
- Keep the food fresh and dry, away from damp areas, and do not allow any water into the animal's food dish.
- Avoid contamination of the dry food with storage mites, replacing feed bags regularly, and exposing it as little as possible to high humidity.
- Baths to allow allergens deposited on the skin to be eliminated.
It is important to remember that these measures can help reduce the exposure to mites. However, their complete elimination from the environment is practically impossible.