bird mite infestation causing medical issues

Asked August 9, 2016, 11:40 AM EDT

Good afternoon, My 72 year old mother seems to be infected or repeatedly bitten by pepper mites (bird mites) and has found one in her clothing. She is not able to find a doctor who can treat this (she was misdiagnosed with scabies). We are and have taken steps to prevent the mites or kill them to no avail. Can you suggest if there is a medical specialist- what type of doctor to see? And any other resources would be helpful. She lives in a rural area but is close ot Buffalo and Rochester NY. I'm desperately trying to help her though I live a few states away. Thank you so much.

Genesee County New York

1 Response

"Mites" are a very common complaint, especially among elderly. The principal mites that will bite people include scabies mites, and occasionally bird or rodent mites. The latter mites are nest parasites and bite people only incidentally when the nest become overcrowded or the host dies or moves out. They do not infest or live on people (despite what you might read on the Internet). Regarding scabies, doctors often presume scabies when there is a mysterious itching problem. The logic is that the patient may benefit from the treatment, and if not, they will come back and the doctor can then look for some other cause. If scabies treatment does not help and pest control does not help, there could be an underlying medical or psychological issue. Delusions of imaginary infestations are not uncommon and can be treated successfully if the patient can be persuaded to cooperate. Conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer, and side effects of medication can all cause sensations and/or rashes that appear to the person to be "bugs". I don't know what your mother might have, but insects/mites should be collected and identified before a presumption of pest infestation is made, and insecticides applied. If no pests can be found, it's probably not a pest issue. For more info, see