Five mentally handicapped individuals living in a home for disabled persons in Southern Germany were seen in our outpatient department with pruritic, red papules predominantly located in groups on the upper extremities, neck, upper trunk and face. Over several weeks 40 inhabitants and 5 caretakers were affected by the same rash. Inspection of their home and the sheds nearby disclosed infestation with rat populations and mites. Finally the diagnosis of tropical rat mite dermatitis was made by the identification of the arthropod Ornithonyssus bacoti or so-called tropical rat mite. The patients were treated with topical corticosteroids and antihistamines. After elimination of the rats and disinfection of the rooms by a professional exterminator no new cases of rat mite dermatitis occurred. The tropical rat mite is an external parasite occurring on rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters and various other small mammals. When the principal animal host is not available, human beings can become the victim of mite infestation.
2007 S. Karger AG, Basel