The Mite Fight: Breaking a Negative Cycle

It has been more than fifty years since human erythrocytes were first identified in the gut of a Dermanyssus gallinae (red poultry mite) in a New York City apartment.  The journal article that disclosed this finding is interesting not only for its scientific content but also for what it tells us about the history of scientific attitudes about mites as human parasites.  The abstract of the article states, in part:

“Although a marked clinical dermatitis is common in some individuals that become closely associated with the bird mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, the literature presents little evidence that this mite will ingest human blood and many investigators feel that this species will never ingest it.”

The unfortunate reality is that, half a century later, persons with parasitic mites still encounter helping professionals who emphatically dismiss this public health issue.

While skepticism is an important part of the scientific method, the refusal to entertain the possibility of this health problem is profoundly unscientific.  When scientists maintain that parasitic mite infestation of humans is “impossible,” they fail to ask the questions and perform the studies that could demonstrate the reality of this problem.  For example, recent studies of non-parasitic Demodex face mites using polymerase chain reaction have increased the estimated infestation rate from about 8% of humans to 100% of humans.  This is academically interesting, but the improved methods are still not used for persons who experience parasitic mite infestation.  If in fact there is more than a 90% false positive rate using the old methods, then by far the majority of people with these mites are not receiving the care they need.

Lacking valid collection methods, the numbers of persons with parasitic mites remain unknown and are likely underestimated.  This in turn leads to underfunding research into diagnosis and treatment.

Reliance on poor diagnostic methods for parasitic mites also leads to false diagnoses of delusional parasitosis.  An article in Clinical Microbiological Review states that delusional parasitosis “is characterized by the fixed belief of being infested with pathogens against all medical evidence.”  If, however, the “medical evidence” is based on testing with a very high false negative rate, then the psychological diagnosis is a house built on quicksand.

For persons with parasitic mites, the mite fight is not just against the arthropods that bite them.  Affected individuals must also grapple with helping professionals who, despite best intentions, often do more harm than good.

Fifty years ago, when that journal article about human blood cells in mite guts was published, each person with parasitic mites faced those unfortunate attitudes alone.  With no community of fellow survivors, the experience must have been incredibly isolating.

Fortunately, times are changing.  There is an online community of people facing the challenge of eliminating a parasitic mite infestation.  There are moves in the direction of a patient advocacy organization, a much-needed step.  In the absence of necessary research, people with parasitic mites are sharing what works for them (as in the protocols on this website and in the book version of The Year of the Mite).  And just as importantly, there are professionals in several fields who take this public health issue seriously.  That means the potential for more organized research along with increased credibility for those who have parasitic mites.

There is an online meme that advises:  Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.  A lot of time has passed since that 1958 article.  It is time to open minds, to use the scientific method to study this problem.  Too many have suffered too much for too many years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jane Ishka on Facebook and Other News

Jane Ishka on Facebook

Big News!

Facebook

Jane Ishka is now on Facebook! Please follow Jane there, chat and recommend her to anyone who could be helped by her expertise. You can also use the buttons on the left to ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ any of the pages with your friends on Facbook – please consider doing that so that Jane can help more people understand about mites and how to get rid of them.

The Book

Jane is busily proofing the very final version of The Year of The Mite and it will be available at Amazon and other good book sellers by the end of February! You can get both hard copy print and the electronic Kindle version online. The printed previews look great and were shown off at Jane’s latest talk on ‘The Sex Life of Mites’ at Nerd Night, North Bay in early February. The books we took were quickly grabbed for reviews and for education.  Jane would very much appreciate a review on Amazon.

Some of the topics in Jane’s talk, for more on the sex lives of mites, Jane suggests:

Jane Ishka Now On Facebook

Jane Talks at The North Bay Nerd Night about the ‘Sex Life of Mites’

* “Want Longer Sex? Come Back as a Dust Mite.”
* “Are Mites Having Sex in My Face?”
* “Ancient Dominatrix Mites Found Trapped in Amber While Mating
* “Adactylidium: Baby mites fertilized before birth, eat their way out of mother’s body

The Website

You will see that we have a completely revamped website.  We like it and hope that you do too.  Let Jane know your thoughts, you can now email her directly at [email protected] and the name of the site (just to try and avoid those pesky spammers).

You can also comment on Facebook of course.

 

The Mite Protocols

 Disclaimer:

These protocols are the result of one person’s experience and study. The protocols were not developed in a controlled fashion to demonstrate their safety and efficacy. Be aware that if you use these protocols, you do so at your own risk. Follow all directions on products you choose to use, and consult your physician regarding your health issues. Consult with a licensed pest control expert regarding environmental treatments that are legal in your community.

Introduction: I became heavily infested with D. gallinae in the Fall of 2009 from baby chicks raised in the family home.  Our older house with its wood paneling and carpet turned out to be “mite heaven,” as Vector Control called it.  I was more affected than other family members, and spent many nights that winter trying to sleep in the car.

Eventually the mite population skyrocketed and we moved out of our home. Specimens from the chickens were identified as D. gallinae in all life stages by a veterinary school parasitology lab, and we had the chickens put down.

Eliminating the source did not solve the problem immediately.  That took over a year and a lot of work.  Ending a mite infestation requires creating an environment that is so inhospitable to mites that you get rid of them faster than they can reproduce.  And it starts with getting rid of the source host, in our case the chickens.

Here’s the advice I wish I’d had at the outset:

  • Inform Yourself and Your Team: What is now known about parasitic mites may be different from what your doctor and pest control expert were taught in school. Educate yourself and share information with professionals, your spouse and family to improve your chances of getting good support.
  • Check the web Parasites and Vectors. Print and read the 2015 article, “Should the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science?” The article summarizes what is known about the ability of D. gallinae to switch host species, the human diseases it carries, and the under-diagnosis of the infestation in humans. This is a good reference to provide to your team.
  • If you can, also buy a copy of Control of Poultry Mites (Dermanyssus) by Dr. Olivier Sparagano.  Published in 2009, this book contains a wealth of information about everything from pesticide resistance, to mites as vectors of human diseases, to which essential oils work best as repellants.
  • Get Rid of All Possible Source Hosts: Your pet bird, the pigeons under your balcony, the bird’s nest in your child’s room, the mice in your basement, are all possible sources. Get rid of them all.
  • Get Rid of Most of Your Belongings:
  • Move into a place with no carpeting and no drapes (get blinds).
  • Get rid of your carpeted car and get a Jeep, or a Honda Element.
  • Look up the 5S system (which originated in Japan) for a method to pare down belongings.  Get rid of your upholstered furniture, or if you must, have plastic, not cloth, upholstery. Throw out your books and get a library card.  Throw out most of your clothes.

When everything you own becomes a fomite (an object that transmits an infection, in this case mites), it’s easy to let go of your possessions.

    • Cool Down Your Environments: Mite are more active and reproduce more rapidly in a warm environment. Keep your home, car and office cool.
    • Dry Out Your Environments: Mites are susceptible to desiccation (drying out). This is an effective way to interfere with mites that involves no toxic chemicals. Go to a major hardware store and buy dehumidifiers to run in every room. DO NOT run humidifiers in your home while you have mites.

 

  • Keep It Clean:
  • Use ammonia — not bleach — to wash your floors.  Bleach corrodes surfaces and provides hiding places for bugs.  And NEVER use ammonia and bleach together! That combination produces toxic gas.
  • Wash your laundry after each use, including sheets, on hot water, with detergent, Borax and ammonia.   Dry on high heat.  Thin clothes are easiest to wash thoroughly; avoid fuzzy clothes.
  • Wear washable shoes and wash them with your laundry every day.
  • Clean the inside of your car every day with antiseptic wipes.

 

  • Keep Your Body Mite-Unfriendly:
  • Keep your hair as short as you can stand it.  Wash whatever hair is left with a sulfur or tar dandruff shampoo at least once a day.  Follow up with a conditioner with essential oils.
  • Shower at least once a day, scrubbing with a rough washcloth. Use liquid soap that contains mite repellent natural ingredients such as neem, tea tree, eucalyptus, and/or lavender.  Wash your face with a cleanser that contains eucalyptus, or use an apricot scrub. A battery operated face brush that cleans in a circular motion is helpful. Try using peppermint lotion. Clean your shower after use, and dehumidify the bathroom.
  • Keep the following homemade mite repellants with you. Use as needed:  a) Lotion to which you have added essential oils and neem; b) a spray bottle containing witch hazel to which you have added essential oils plus neem.  Remember to follow label directions regarding amounts. You’ll find these two repellents are useful at different times.

 

  • The best way to know if treatment of an environment works is whether mites still affect you after the environment is treated.
  • Good diagnostic tools are being developed but are not widely available, so underdiagnosis is still a problem.
  • If you are a favored host, your experience may be different from others in your family. Parasitic mites are known to choose favorites in a flock to feed upon.
  • Believe in Your Senses:
  • Use Pesticides and Mite Growth Hormones as Directed: Your pest control professional will likely need to identify the species before using these products on your home. Mites evolve pesticide resistance; so discuss the choice of products with your pest control specialist.
  • Keep Your Bed Mite-Unfriendly: Wrap masking tape around the legs of your bed, sticky side out, to keep mites from climbing up from the floor. Cover your box spring, mattress, and pillows with plastic bed covers and wipe them down with antiseptic when you change bedding.
  • Get Out of Your House and Swim: The more you are at home, the more you are exposed to the mites in your environment. Get out and swim in a chlorinated pool every day.  Then sit in a chlorinated Jacuzzi and power wash your feet.  If you can’t do that, at least exercise (and work up a sweat) every day.
  • Own the Problem: Become your own expert. If you want to understand why nobody else in your family is being bitten the way you are, read about host selection. If you want to understand why your new bites are less visible than the first bites you received, read about immunosuppression by ectoparasites. More is known every day about parasitic mites. The more you learn, the better you can solve this problem.

Best of luck.  You can reclaim your life from this infestation.  You, and only you, can make it happen.

Press Release for “Year of the Mite” — the Book

The Year of the Mite is now scheduled for publication in early 2016.

To see the press release, please click on this link:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/11/prweb12292789.htm

“This book gives all the advice contained on Jane’s blog, and much more. Finding out that my feelings of fear, confusion and desperation had been shared by someone else going through the same thing really helped.

The fact that Jane is a scientist offers a further dimension; the pest control operators and doctors I encountered during my nightmare experience could learn a lot from reading this.”

— Kitty W., United Kingdom

The Mite Protocols

 Disclaimer:

These protocols are the result of one person’s experience and study. The protocols were not developed in a controlled fashion to demonstrate their safety and efficacy. Be aware that if you use these protocols, you do so at your own risk. Follow all directions on products you choose to use, and consult your physician regarding your health issues. Consult with a licensed pest control expert regarding environmental treatments that are legal in your community.

Introduction: I became heavily infested with D. gallinae in the Fall of 2009 from baby chicks raised in the family home.  Our older house with its wood paneling and carpet turned out to be “mite heaven,” as Vector Control called it.  I was more affected than other family members, and spent many nights that winter trying to sleep in the car.

Eventually the mite population skyrocketed and we moved out of our home. Specimens from the chickens were identified as D. gallinae in all life stages by a veterinary school parasitology lab, and we had the chickens put down.

Eliminating the source did not solve the problem immediately.  That took over a year and a lot of work.  Ending a mite infestation requires creating an environment that is so inhospitable to mites that you get rid of them faster than they can reproduce.  And it starts with getting rid of the source host, in our case the chickens.

Here’s the advice I wish I’d had at the outset:

  1. Inform Yourself and Your Team: What is now known about parasitic mites may be different from what your doctor and pest control expert were taught in school. Educate yourself and share information with professionals, your spouse and family to improve your chances of getting good support.
  • Check the web Parasites and Vectors. Print and read the 2015 article, “Should the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science?” The article summarizes what is known about the ability of D. gallinae to switch host species, the human diseases it carries, and the under-diagnosis of the infestation in humans. This is a good reference to provide to your team.
  • If you can, also buy a copy of Control of Poultry Mites (Dermanyssus) by Dr. Olivier Sparagano.  Published in 2009, this book contains a wealth of information about everything from pesticide resistance, to mites as vectors of human diseases, to which essential oils work best as repellants.
  • Get Rid of All Possible Source Hosts: Your pet bird, the pigeons under your balcony, the bird’s nest in your child’s room, the mice in your basement, are all possible sources. Get rid of them all.
  • Get Rid of Most of Your Belongings:
  • Move into a place with no carpeting and no drapes (get blinds).
  • Get rid of your carpeted car and get a Jeep, or a Honda Element.
  • Look up the 5S system (which originated in Japan) for a method to pare down belongings.  Get rid of your upholstered furniture, or if you must, have plastic, not cloth, upholstery. Throw out your books and get a library card.  Throw out most of your clothes.

When everything you own becomes a fomite (an object that transmits an infection, in this case mites), it’s easy to let go of your possessions.

    1. Cool Down Your Environments: Mite are more active and reproduce more rapidly in a warm environment. Keep your home, car and office cool.
    2. Dry Out Your Environments: Mites are susceptible to desiccation (drying out). This is an effective way to interfere with mites that involves no toxic chemicals. Go to a major hardware store and buy dehumidifiers to run in every room. DO NOT run humidifiers in your home while you have mites.

 

  1. Keep It Clean:
  • Use ammonia — not bleach — to wash your floors.  Bleach corrodes surfaces and provides hiding places for bugs.  And NEVER use ammonia and bleach together! That combination produces toxic gas.
  • Wash your laundry after each use, including sheets, on hot water, with detergent, Borax and ammonia.   Dry on high heat.  Thin clothes are easiest to wash thoroughly; avoid fuzzy clothes.
  • Wear washable shoes and wash them with your laundry every day.
  • Clean the inside of your car every day with antiseptic wipes.

 

  1. Keep Your Body Mite-Unfriendly:
  • Keep your hair as short as you can stand it.  Wash whatever hair is left with a sulfur or tar dandruff shampoo at least once a day.  Follow up with a conditioner with essential oils.
  • Shower at least once a day, scrubbing with a rough washcloth. Use liquid soap that contains mite repellent natural ingredients such as neem, tea tree, eucalyptus, and/or lavender.  Wash your face with a cleanser that contains eucalyptus, or use an apricot scrub. A battery operated face brush that cleans in a circular motion is helpful. Try using peppermint lotion. Clean your shower after use, and dehumidify the bathroom.
  • Keep the following homemade mite repellants with you. Use as needed:  a) Lotion to which you have added essential oils and neem; b) a spray bottle containing witch hazel to which you have added essential oils plus neem.  Remember to follow label directions regarding amounts. You’ll find these two repellents are useful at different times.

 

  1. Keep Your Bed Mite-Unfriendly: Wrap masking tape around the legs of your bed, sticky side out, to keep mites from climbing up from the floor. Cover your box spring, mattress, and pillows with plastic bed covers and wipe them down with antiseptic when you change bedding.
  2. Use Pesticides and Mite Growth Hormones as Directed: Your pest control professional will likely need to identify the species before using these products on your home. Mites evolve pesticide resistance; so discuss the choice of products with your pest control specialist.
  3. Believe in Your Senses:
  • If you are a favored host, your experience may be different from others in your family. Parasitic mites are known to choose favorites in a flock to feed upon.
  • Good diagnostic tools are being developed but are not widely available, so underdiagnosis is still a problem.
  • The best way to know if treatment of an environment works is whether mites still affect you after the environment is treated.
  1. Get Out of Your House and Swim: The more you are at home, the more you are exposed to the mites in your environment. Get out and swim in a chlorinated pool every day.  Then sit in a chlorinated Jacuzzi and power wash your feet.  If you can’t do that, at least exercise (and work up a sweat) every day.
  2. Own the Problem: Become your own expert. If you want to understand why nobody else in your family is being bitten the way you are, read about host selection. If you want to understand why your new bites are less visible than the first bites you received, read about immunosuppression by ectoparasites. More is known every day about parasitic mites. The more you learn, the better you can solve this problem.

Best of luck.  You can reclaim your life from this infestation.  You, and only you, can make it happen.