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Dust Mites for Breakfast?

Published on Feb 08, 2011 with 0 comment

Dust mites are one of the most common allergens known to be responsible for upper and lower respiratory symptoms such as nasal congestion,  runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and wheezing.  House dust mites are found in highest concentrations in our bedding (mattresses and pillows) and carpets, and allergists are constantly working with patients on ways to minimize or avoid exposure to this very problematic allergen.

But interestingly, over the past few years, house dust mites and their cousin, the storage mite, have been recognized to be the cause of severe allergic reactions when eaten in foods contaminated with high concentrations of mites.  Dust mites have been found to contaminate pancake and flour mixes and when ingested, can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis,  in sensitized individuals.  This has most commonly been reported with pancake mixes but has also been seen with cake mixes, and in beignet mixes from New Orleans. This allergy to ingested mites has been appropriately named Oral Mite Anaphylaxis or “Pancake Syndrome”.

Interestingly, cooking these foods at high temperatures did not get rid of the allergen. This is not surprising as mite allergen tends to be quite heat resistant. To eliminate mite allergen from your bedding you must wash the sheets in 120 degree water!

The risk of finding mites in flour increases in tropical and humid climates.  To decrease the chances of having mites contaminate foods, it is recommended that flour be stored in an airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer.


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