Timeline of Scientific Understanding: Mites and Human Infestation

Timeline:  Advances in Scientific Understanding of the Effects of D. gallinae on Humans


Questions about D. gallinae and humans

Pre-1958 Understanding

1958 Study

1959-2009 Understanding

2009-2010:  State of the Art Knowledge

Questions for Continued Research

Can red poultry mites bite humans and then reproduce? The red poultry mite is species specific.  In particular, it does not bite humans. Human blood cells found in the guts of mites collected from an infested bedroom, showing that mites do feed on humans D. gallinae ingests human blood but cannot reproduce based on feeding on human blood. D. gallinae can “easily infest” a number of farm animals and humans (Sparagano book).  There is now enough evidence to show that D. gallinae can reproduce after ingesting human blood (Sparagano, personal communication)
Are some people bitten more than others? Although D. gallinae attacks certain chickens more than others, it attacks all humans at the same rate.  Differences in symptoms are caused by different levels of allergic reaction. There are differences in attack rates on humans, which may be caused by differences in human pheromones (Sparagano, personal communication) As pheromone levels increase at adolescence, are human children more likely to become infested?
Can D. gallinae pass diseases to people? D. gallinae carries few if any organisms that cause disease in humans D. gallinae is a vector of a number of serious human diseases, including encephalitis and spirochetes.  The role of D. gallinae as a vector of human disease has been undervalued.
How should infested homes be treated? D. gallinae is readily eliminated with pesticides such as pyrethrins. D. gallinae is developing resistance to all pesticides currently in use to control it (Sparagano book). What is an optimal home treatment protocol?
What treatments should people receive who are repeatedly bitten when their homes are infested? When chickens are infested, treat the coop and the chickens.  When humans are infested, treat the home environment only. Some essential oils can be effective (eucalyptus, lavender, thyme) (Sparagano book and personal communication).  Application of talc can be effective.  (Sparagano, personal communication).  Garlic kills 100% of D. gallinae (Sparagano book) What is an optimal human treatment protocol?
Do the professionals we consult have up-to-date information? As of July 2009, our local 4H was still telling members that “chicken mites don’t bite people.” When our house became infested in 2009, various professionals provided this outdated information. What is the best way to keep physicians and vector control updated?


15 thoughts on “Timeline of Scientific Understanding: Mites and Human Infestation

  1. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this blog.
    I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from
    you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get
    my own, personal site now 😉

    • Thank you for your kind words, and best of luck with your writing. We need to share ideas to combat this.
      Take care.

  2. I absolutely loved your book about bird mites.
    You are a really talented writer.
    I felt like you were actually across from me, telling me your story.
    I don’t have bird mites, but my best friend and renter does.
    She lives in SE Arizona.
    She too was able to get rid of these little fkrs. Lol. But it took her a year. Plus all my furniture was thrown out as was her own. She has not had a bite either in the house or car for along time now. I pray they are bgone for good.
    I have mention your name on 2 different bird mite sites along with
    BUT I was just so impressed with your writing style.
    I’m so pleased to hearvthis night made is over for you, but your writing is so good, I didn’t want your book to come to an end. Lol
    Now THAT IS crazy. Lol.
    Take care, I hope this email find both you and your daughter happy, healthy and MITE FREE!!
    I hope to find others books you have written in the future.
    Please keep me posted on any new books coming out.
    Sharon Bradshaw.

    • Thanks so much, Sharon, and I am very glad to hear your friend was able to get rid of her mites. Sounds like a tough process, but glad she prevailed. It can be done!
      And thank you very much for your kind words about the Year of the Mite book. Please consider writing a review on Amazon! The more the merrier!
      All the best,

  3. Hi there,
    Sharon again.
    Just wanted to let u know, I did a post on amazon about your book,
    But it doesn’t seem to be showing up.
    I’ll try again.
    Mean while every site I go to re: bird mites, I make mention of your book and Dr SPARANGO time line study.
    That study says a lot on just how out dated the medical community is!!!
    Meanwhile people are being told they are crazy. In some cases ending up in a psych ward somewhere, and or being shamed and dismissed for something that is REAL!
    again thankyou for all your work in putting your awful experience into an informative and actually entertaining book.
    Take care

    • Thanks so much, Sharon!
      I really appreciate your kind words! Very glad when I hear the book makes a difference.
      Yes, the gap between old and new thinking about parasitic mites has a big impact on people who are trying to get rid of ectoparasites.
      Another good resource to share is David George’s article: https://parasitesandvectors.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13071-015-0768-7
      He asks and answers the question: Should parasitic mites be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science?
      Let’s keep that question out there!
      All the best,

  4. Hi Jane
    Sorry just now seeing your last post and the rec of
    Parasites and vectors.
    Thank you I will most definitely get on that !
    I hope you holidays are good and up coming new year too.
    Can’t believe it 2017…… already ?!
    Thank you for your response
    Take care

  5. Is it possible to contract bird mites through a magic show? CONTACT WAS MINIMAL,but the quarters were close and he had 4 doves that were not clean. I guess I am wondering if they can get in close,on skin,be carried and also my symptoms started a few hours after the show,itchy and dryness in nose canal. Almost as if it were inflamed. I do feel them crawling but that could be that i just read your page for 3 hours,lol Just wondering if they can be passed on like that or is that to short of a time span,thank you

    • Hello Susan,
      So sorry that you and your family are having a difficult time. And, yes, I know people who don’t have mites but have become itchy from reading The Year of the Mite. Sorry it’s taken some time to answer your note — by now I’m sure you know whether your crawling sensations were just from reading or from ectoparasites.
      I don’t have any information regarding how long an exposure is required to transmit a mite infestation. Logically it would seem that the shorter the exposure, the heavier an infestation would be required. It’s possible that the magician was himself mite-resisitant (i.e., didn’t excrete kairomones that attracted mites), but that his birds were badly infested. Because this public health problem is so little recognized, there is little research about the specifics of transmission.
      Hope the protocols on this site will be helpful. It is unfortunately true that people who contract mites must take charge of their own recovery. Wishing you well in your battle with ectoparasites, and do write again to let me know how you are doing.
      All the best,

  6. Hi Jane,
    I read your book and then skimmed it and this website a few times. What I am looking for is, if and how your old house (the one shared with your partner, Monica) was treated for mites, after you moved out. You mentioned that the couple who bought the house did not indicate there were any problems within the 2 year period after the house was sold. Would you theorize that the mites just disappeared from there after the chickens were removed?

    • Hello Julie,
      Hope you found the book useful. Yes, there was significant treatment on the house and the yard after I moved out. Even the dirt in the back yard was treated. The chicken coop was treated and dismantled. The house was treated multiple times with miticides.
      My experience suggests that eliminating the original animal vector (in this case, chickens) is necessary but not sufficient once mites become established in a building. In the old days, chicken farmers would burn a coop to the ground once it became heavily infested. With modern miticides this may not be necessary, but as mites evolve resistance to miticides, those treatments are becoming less effective.
      I’m very happy that the people who bought the house have apparently fared well, but it was the result of intense cleaning and treatment over a significant period of time. They may also be lucky enough not to “smell” good to mites. It’s hard to know.
      All the best,

  7. Hi Jane,

    I just discovered your book and reached out to you on FB. Not sure if you are on there much so I am writing here. I came into contact with these mites while staying at Extended Stay in Emeryville last Sept. From there my body, my house and belongings were taken over by them, and was forced to get rid of all of my things and have been living a small apartment with hardwood floors since Oct. My roommates were not affected at all.

    After being seen by doctors who said I was fine, try to take many dangerous chemicals, changing my diet then finally meeting a naturopath in Feb. to help heal from the damage of all this, I have reduced them, but they are still living in my skin. I have followed much of what you suggested, and have created systems to control them in my space, out of my clothes, etc. Wondering when this will end. I hope to speak with you and contribute what I have learned to help others and how to fully heal from this.

    In struggle and strength, Cynthia

    • Hello Cynthia,
      Your post really struck a chord with me. Back in 2009 when I needed to leave home because of mites, I considered moving into that same Extended Stay in Emeryville. But when I drove around the property, I saw a large pile of discarded mattresses outside the building waiting to be picked up. seeing that, I wondered if the building might have bed bugs, and I stayed somewhere else. So it’s sobering to hear that you may have contracted parasitic mites there.
      Your story is familiar in other ways as well: moving into a small place without rugs, being affected differently than other household members, not finding good help from the helping professions… all are unfortunately common features to many of the stories I hear from folks who deal with this problem. And I well remember those same experiences.
      Fortunately there is change afoot. A patient group is forming under the leadership of Nat Willingham – and I suggest you join her Facebook group. There are new publications coming out, from a group of European entomologists led by Olivier Sparagano and others. People are working on molecular diagnostics for parasitic mites. I believe the internet and the connections people are making have a catalytic effect regarding this problem that has been ignored and dismissed for so long.
      I wish you all the good luck in the world as you continue your struggle. I hope the protocols on this site and the information in my book are helpful.
      Please let me know how it goes for you.
      All the best,

  8. Thanks for putting this information out there! It’s awful how much misinformation there is, if only they really couldn’t survive on humans.
    I’ve actually been researching getting into pigeon keeping as a hobby lately and while their associated creepy crawlies have always struck a nerve it didn’t bother me as much when I believed they were of no threat to me. I’m glad I know better now and before I learned the hard way. I’m content with my mite-free indoor parakeet 🙂

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