A between the covers expose of house dust mites
CSIRO Entomology’s Dr Matt Colloff’s book, Dust Mites , is an exposé of the lives of house dust mites, the problems they cause, how they cause them and what measures can be taken to control their numbers.
“This is the first book to comprehensively cover all aspects of the mites, which can cause allergic responses ranging from asthma and hay fever to eczema,” Dr Colloff said. “I wrote it to help people interested in finding out more about house dust mites.”
Dust Mites includes information on; identification, physiology and ecology, allergen biochemistry and molecular biology, epidemiology, mite control and allergen avoidance.
“It’s the first time all this information has been put together,” Dr Colloff said.
After studying dust mites for 25 years, Dr Colloff enjoys a high international reputation for his work. His research focussed on the biology of the mites in relation to allergic diseases and factors affecting their global distribution and abundance, and how to control them.
“House dust mites are tiny – around 0.25mm to 0.50mm long. They feed on organic ‘dust’ such as flakes of shed human skin and love our houses where they can be found in our beds, clothing, curtains and carpets,” he said.
The allergens produced by the mites are found in their bodies, secretions, faecal matter and shed skins. Some of their gut enzymes can be strongly allergenic and these often persist in their faecal matter.
These mites are ubiquitous. They have even been found in the Antarctic and on the Mir Space Station. Their recorded history goes back to the 17th Century and a 1657 woodcut by August Hauptmann appears on the cover of Dr Colloff’s book.
Dr Colloff said it has taken over 10 years to write the book partly because it was the first time much of the data had been pulled together and analysed.
“I have mapped and databased thousands of mite and allergen distribution records to give a global picture of the patterns of dust mite allergen exposure: the hotspots and how exposure correlates with the prevalence of allergic asthma,” he said.
“A fresh look at clinical trials revealed that there needed to be at least a 90 per cent reduction in allergen levels to significantly improve patient outcomes. This new information means we can start improving the effectiveness of dust mite control.”
- Download image at: A between the covers exposé of house dust mites
- Background information available at: Dust Mites
- Video: Dust Mites (2009)