Hamilton County Health Pyemotes itch mites warning

According to Cincinnati’s NBC affiliate WLWT.com, the Hamilton County Public Health Department (in Ohio) is now warning residents of a suspected outbreak of Pyemotes mites in the area.  The source of the itchy bites is yet to be positively identified.

Last year there was an outbreak of Pyemotes mites (also known as “Oak leaf gall mites” or “Itch Mites”) in Chicago. The same happened in 2004 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and in Kansas.

WLWT said,

Hamilton County Public Health is warning about occurrences of insect bites from what appears to be itch mites (oak leaf gall mite) and an investigation is ongoing to confirm the source.

The health district said recent bites appear to be consistent with those from microscopic mites, which are not known to transmit disease in humans.

We suspect the cause of these insect bites is itch mites which inhabit in tree leaves, Health Commissioner Tim Ingram said.  The mites cannot be seen and the bites are not felt, but leave an itchy red mark that can resemble a skin rash.

The article also says “The bites are described as having tiny scabs in the center of a reddened area sometimes extending 3 to 4 centimeters.”

This site has pictures of Pyemotes itch mite bites.

If you’re in an area with an itch mite problem, the article recommends a number of preventive measures including DEET insect repellent, laundering clothing daily (since itch mites can live on it for a few days), showering when you come home, and avoiding woody areas in the evening.

It is also important to remember that Hamilton County and Cincinnati are also suffering from the bed bug epidemic.  Remember that itchy spots that appear to be insect bites might also be bed bug bites, as well as a number of other things.