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Itching after contact with cats

Paul Mason masonp at earthlight.co.nz
Wed Oct 8 03:42:03 EST 1997


As some of the otherr respondents have said, you could have an allergy to cats.  But there is 
another possible cause.  There is a mite which infects cats called Cheyletiella blakei, which has 
a ccommon name of "walking dandruff".  This mite lives on the surface of the skin of the cat and 
often causes the development of dandruff.  Sometimes, if you run your fingers down either side of 
the cat's spine you can feel little pimples.  One of the characteristics of this mite is that it 
will have a munch on humans who come into contact with the cat.  The reactions of the in-contact 
humans depend on the allergic response they raise.  This can vary from no response at all, to 
weals up to an inch across in severely responsive cases.  For some reason the mite seems to prefer 
regions on humans where the clothing is tight, such as round the waist, round the cuffs and under 
bra straps.

The best way to find the mites is to groom/brush the cat over a sheet of plastic or newspaper, 
collect the groomings in a plastic bag (seal the bag if the material is to be sent away for 
examination), and examine the groomings under a microscope for the destinctive mites.

In my experience (in New Zealand), medical people seldom know of the existence of this mite.  But 
it is very real here and quite common.

Please contact me directly if you need further information.


Dr Paul Mason
Consultant Parasitologist
New Zealand

masonp at earthlight.co.nz

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