Background: There have been several reports of occupational allergy to spider mites (Tetranychidae), but no published report has described citrus red mite (CRM, Panonychus citri)-induced occupational asthma confirmed by specific bronchial challenge.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate clinical and immunologic characteristics of CRM-induced occupational asthma.
Methods and results: We encountered 16 cases of CRM-induced occupational asthma among farmers cultivating citrus fruits. Asthmatic attacks corresponded closely with their work on citrus farms. The mean duration of the latent period was 12.9 (range 7 to 20) years. During their first visit to our clinic, nine patients with FEV1 lower than 70% of predictive value showed reversible airway obstruction after inhalation of bronchodilator, and seven with FEV1 greater than 70% of predictive value showed airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine. Fifteen of the 16 also complained of recurrent nasal symptoms, which had developed at an earlier time than the asthmatic symptoms. They showed strong positive reactions to CRM extract on skin prick test (A/H ratio > or = 1.0) and had high serum specific IgE antibody against CRM which was detected by ELISA. Skin prick test with common inhalant allergens revealed that 10 had an isolated positive response to CRM with negative results to common inhalant allergens in their environment. The ELISA inhibition tests with CRM demonstrated significant inhibitions by CRM in a dose-dependent manner, while minimal inhibitions were noted by D. pteronyssinus and mugwort allergens.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that CRM could induce IgE-mediated bronchoconstriction in exposed workers on citrus farm.