Pigeon mite: An underdiagnosed cause of papular urticaria

Main Article Content

Saber Gharagozlou
Marzieh Tavakol
Mohammad Gharagozlou


infestation, Pigeon mite, urticaria


Background: Dermanyssus gallinae, known as bird mite, generally lives on nestlings’ featherless skin. Humans are accidentally infected, and itchy dermatitis is induced when the mites are unable to use birds’ blood. The diagnosis is difficult due to the very small size and rapid movement of the mites, which make them hard to spot.

Case presentation: A 14-year-old male and his mother were referred to the allergy clinic complaining of a 2-week generalized itchy cutaneous papular lesion, unresponsive to antihista-mines, with the feeling of an insect moving on the surface of the skin. Due to the history of recently hatched pigeons nesting on their balcony and finding very small bugs, diagnosed as D. gallinae, they were instructed to clean the pigeon’s nest as the source of these parasites, which successfully solved the problem.

Conclusion: Bird mite infestation should be considered in the differential diagnosis of recurrent pruritus and urticaria, refractory to conventional treatments. Physicians should be aware of this mite infestation in approach to any patient with papular urticaria.

Abstract 392 | PDF Downloads 386 HTML Downloads 48 XML Downloads 253


1. McClain D, Dana AN, Goldenberg G. Mite infestations. Dermatol Ther. 2009;22(4):327–46. 10.1111/j.1529-8019.2009.01245.x

2. Chauhan V, Thakur S, Mahajan V. Intractable pruritus caused by pigeon mites. Indian J Dermatol. 2015;60(3):312. 10.4103/0019-5154.156402

3. Demain JG. Papular urticaria and things that bite in the night. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2003;3(4):291–303. 10.1007/s11882-003-0089-3

4. Heng MC, Kloss SG, Haberfelde GC. Pathogenesis of papular urticaria. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1984;10(6):1030–4. 10.1016/s0190-9622(84)80330-8

5. Stibich AS, Schwartz RA. Papular urticaria. Cutis. 2001; 68(2):89–91.

6. de Oliveira Alves A, Bernardes Filho F. Gamasoidosis (bird mite dermatitis): A case series in a family. Pediatr Neonatol. 2018;59(1):102–3. 10.1016/j.pedneo.2017.08.001

7. James M, Harwood R. Mites and mite-borne disease. 6th ed. New York: Macmillan; 1969. Medical entomology; p. 379–87.

8. Axtell RC. Poultry integrated pest management: Status and future. Integr Pest Manag Rev. 1999;4(1):53–73. 10.1023/A:1009637116897

9. Maurer V, Baumgärtner J. Temperature influence on life table statistics of the chicken mite Dermanyssus gallinae (Acari: Dermanyssidae). Exp Appl Acarol. 1992;15(1):27–40. 10.1007/BF01193965

10. Nordenfors H, Höglund J, Uggla A. Effects of temperature and humidity on oviposition, molting, and longevity of Dermanyssus gallinae (Acari: Dermanyssidae). J Med Entomol. 1999;36(1):68–72. 10.1093/jmedent/36.1.68

11. Höglund J, Nordenfors H, Uggla A. Prevalence of the poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, in different types of production systems for egg layers in Sweden. Poult Sci. 1995;74(11):1793–8. 10.3382/ps.0741793

12. Kirkwood A. Longevity of the mites Dermanyssus gallinae and Liponyssus sylviarum. Exp Parasitol. 1963;14(3):358–66. 10.1016/0014-4894(63)90043-2

13. Beck W. Landwirtschaftliche Nutztiere als Vektoren von parasitären Epizoonoseerregern und zoophilen Dermatophyten. Hautarzt. 1999;50(9):621–8. 10.1007/s001050050971

14. Haag-Wackernagel D. Gesundheitsgefährdungen durch die Straßentaube Columba livia: Parasiten. Amtstierärztlicher Dienst und Lebensmittelkontrolle. 2008;3:174–88.

15. Weber WJ. Health hazards from pigeons, starlings and English sparrows: Diseases and parasites associated with pigeons, starlings, and English sparrows which affect domestic animals. Fresno, CA (USA): Thomson Publications; 1979.

16. Sexton D, Haynes B. Bird-mite infestation in a university hospital. Lancet. 1975;305(7904):445. 10.1016/s0140-6736(75)91506-8

17. Auger P, Nantel J, Meunier N, Harrison R, Loiselle R, Gyorkos T. Skin acariasis caused by Dermanyssus gallinae (de Geer): An in-hospital outbreak. Can Med Assoc J. 1979;120(6):700.

18. Cocciolo G, Circella E, Pugliese N, Lupini C, Mescolini G, Catelli E, et al. Evidence of vector borne transmission of Salmonella enterica enterica serovar Gallinarum and fowl typhoid disease mediated by the poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae (De Geer, 1778). Parasit Vectors. 2020;13(1):1–10. 10.1186/s13071-020-04393-8

19. Boseret G, Losson B, Mainil JG, Thiry E, Saegerman C. Zoonoses in pet birds: Review and perspectives. Vet Res. 2013;44(1):1–17. 10.1186/1297-9716-44-36

20. Sparagano O, George D, Harrington D, Giangaspero A. Significance and control of the poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae. Annu Rev Entomol. 2014;59:447–66. 10.1146/annurev-ento-011613-162101

21. George DR, Finn RD, Graham KM, Mul MF, Maurer V, Moro CV, et al. Should the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae be of wider concern for veterinary and medical science? Parasit Vectors. 2015;8(1):1–10. 10.1186/s13071-015-0768-7

22. Kavallari A, Küster T, Papadopoulos E, Hondema LS, Øines Ø, Skov J, et al. Avian mite dermatitis: Diagnostic challenges and unmet needs. Parasite Immunol. 2018;40(8):e12539. 10.1111/pim.12539