Rodent mites may bite people when their hosts die or abandon their nests. Three types of rodent mites readily bite humans: the house mouse mite , spiny rat mite and tropical rat mite. |
Rodent mites can be found in homes where rats or mice are abundant or where rodents have recently died. Several common rodent mites have been known to occasionally bite humans.
The tropical rat mite, Ornithonyssus bacoti, is neither truly tropical nor exclusively feeds on rats. This mite can live for up to 10 days off its host and is capable of traveling great distances to find new food sources. In habitats where rodents have been killed, the mites will leave their dead hosts, congregate around heat sources, such as hot pipes and stoves and seek alternative food sources, including humans. The bite of these mites often causes tiny, clear blisters which is accompanied by a rash. However, they are not known to vector any human diseases.
The house mouse mite, Liponyssides sanguineus has a worldwide distribution but is more common in the U.S. in the northeastern states. It is normally a nest dweller and only occurs on the host when feeding. It will attack humans if rodent hosts are not available. This mite is of medical importance because it vectors Rickettsia akari, the rickettsial pox in humans. Fortunately, this disease is relatively rare in the United States and there have not been any known cases in Minnesota.
Another rodent mite which occasionally bites people is the spiny rat mite, Laelaps echidnina. This is probably the most common mite occurring on Norway rats and roof rats in the U.S. It is not a known vector of pathogens.
The house mouse mite prefers to suck the blood of mice, but also will bite rats and people, often causing a rash around the bite. They prefer warm places (e.g., around pipes and furnaces) where rodents live. The spiny rat mite feeds on rats at night and hides by day in cracks and crevices around rat nests and resting places. The tropical rat mite's bite is painful and causes skin irritation and itching.
The easiest method to controlrodent mites that have entered your home is to physically remove them with a vacuum cleaner or wipe them up with a moist cloth. Mites are not automatically killed by a vacuum cleaner so freeze the bag to prevent the mites from crawling back out.To prevent further problems with these mites, it is important to eliminate their hosts and any nests.
After doing this, it may further be necessary to fumigate, as these mite populations could feasibly have multiplied into the tens of thousands and some of these species can live for close to an entire year without a meal from the proper host. This means that although they cannot live off of your blood, they can sure continue to try for a very very long and uncomfortable time. Remember, fumigation typically has to occur twice, about a week apart, in order to break the egg cycle, since no available pesticides are known to kill eggs. It may even be necessary to do more than one round of fumigation because rodent mites are notorious for hiding in places that are difficult to reach with pesticides.
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