Spider mite allergy in apple-cultivating farmers: European red mite (Panonychus ulmi) and two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) may be important allergens in the development of work-related asthma and rhinitis symptoms

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999 Dec;104(6):1285-92. doi: 10.1016/s0091-6749(99)70026-6.


Background: Recent investigations have suggested that the citrus red mite (Panonychus citri) is the most important allergen affecting citrus-cultivating farmers with asthma, allergic rhinitis, or both.

Objective: We sought to evaluate type I hypersensitivity to spider mites, particularly the European red mite (Panonychus ulmi) and the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), and to determine the relationship between hypersensitivity to spider mites and respiratory dysfunction.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional survey. Questionnaires were given, and skin prick tests for 11 inhalant allergens common in Korea and 2 species of spider mites (European red mite and two-spotted spider mite) were performed in 725 apple-cultivating farmers in Korea.

Results: Results of skin prick tests in the apple farmers indicated that European red mite (23.2%) was the most common sensitizing allergen, followed by Tyrophagus putrescentiae (21.2%), two-spotted spider mite (16.6%), Dermatophagoides farinae (16.3%), D pteronyssinus (14.4%), cockroach (13.1%), and Hop Japanese (Humulus Japonicus) pollen (12.0%). Positive skin responses (mean wheal size >/=3 mm) to one or more of 13 inhalant allergens were found in 48.2% of farmers tested, whereas 40 subjects (8.6%) had an isolated skin response to the spider mites. Among 119 farmers with work-related asthmatic symptoms, the positive skin response rates to European red mite and two-spotted spider mite were 40.4% and 27.0%, respectively. These figures were significantly higher than those found among farmers without work-related symptoms (19.1% and 14.1%, respectively; P <.01). The prevalence of work-related asthma symptoms was higher in farmers with positive skin responses to spider mites than in those with negative skin responses to spider mites and those with positive skin responses to any allergen tested (31.4% vs 15.0% vs 21.0%, respectively; P <.05).

Conclusion: Spider mites, particularly European red mite and 2-spotted spider mite, are common sensitizing allergens in apple-cultivating farmers. These spider mites may be important causative allergens in the development of work-related respiratory symptoms in these workers.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Agriculture*
  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Asthma / parasitology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / parasitology*
  • Mites / immunology*
  • Occupational Diseases / parasitology
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / parasitology
  • Rhinitis / parasitology
  • Risk Factors
  • Rosales / parasitology*
  • Skin Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Allergens