An Open Letter to Eric Boodman at Stat

Hello Eric,

I’ve just read your article on entomologist Gale Ridge:

After reading it, I encourage you to broaden the scope of your research into the subject of mites as human parasites. While I am sure Dr. Ridge has the best of motives, her methods are outmoded and she may be misdiagnosing people with parasitic mites as having delusional parasitosis.

It’s been documented since the 1950s that the “poultry” mite Dermanyssus gallinae ingests human erythrocytes:

And in recent years, researchers looking at (non-parasitic) face mites have determined that looking for mites on humans with a microscope – as Dr. Ridge does – yields about a 90% false negative rate:

A false diagnosis of delusional parasitosis can have very detrimental effects on people. A group of entomologists in Europe, under the leadership of mite expert Olivier Sparagano, has formed an organization called COREMI that is looking at this issue. Here’s an article from some of them:

More research is happening in this field, and there is hope for people with parasitic mites that they will be able to battle the twin scourges of parasitic mites and misdiagnosis. This kind of misdiagnosis is endemic, to the point where there’s a name for an actual bug infestation “masquerading” as delusional parasistosis:

Why they call it “Pseudo-delusory,” when the woman just had bugs, is anyone’s guess.

Positive change is happening. In order for change to continue to happen, it is important for entomologists to apply modern methods to parasitic mite detection. It is time for this harmful paradigm to change.

Best regards,
Jane Ishka

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About Jane

Jane Ishka is a retired biotechnology professional. Her work wass typically read by FDA reviewers, who have approved everything from prostate cancer assays to an implantable glucose monitor based on her regulatory filings. She plays the steel drum and is a collage artist. She is now a full time author and workshop leader.