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Yersiniosis

What is yersiniosis?
Yersiniosis is an infection of the intestines caused by the bacteria (germs), Yersinia enterocolitica or Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Children may have bloody diarrhea and adults may experience joint pain. For data on yersiniosis in New York City visit EpiQuery.

Who gets yersiniosis?

Anyone can get yersiniosis. However, most cases caused by Yersinia enterocolitis occur in infants and young children, while Yersinia pseudotuberculosis mostly affects persons aged 5 to 20 years.

How is yersiniosis spread?
Yersiniosis is spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. The Yersinia germs are found in many animals, particularly swine (pigs). Foodborne infections are often associated with contaminated raw pork and pork products.
Where are the Yersinia germs found?
Animals are the main source of Yersinia. Wastes from animals may contaminate water, milk, and foods and become a source of infection for people or other animals. The germ has been found in cold cuts, pork chitterlings, raw milk, ice cream, improperly pasteurized chocolate milk, tofu, shellfish, lakes, streams, and wild and domestic animals.
What are the symptoms of yersiniosis?
People infected with Yersinia bacteria may have diarrhea, fever, and abdominal discomfort. Symptoms may mimic appendicitis.
How soon after infection do symptoms appear?
Symptoms usually appear within 3 to 7 days after exposure.
How is yersiniosis diagnosed?
Yersiniosis is diagnosed by identifying the Yersinia bacteria in the stool (feces).
How is yersiniosis treated?
Yersiniosis may be treated with antibiotics, such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Yersinia is generally resistant to penicillin.
Should an infected person be excluded from work or school?
Since Yersinia bacteria are in the stool (feces), only people with active diarrhea who are unable to control their bowel habits (e.g., infants, young children, certain handicapped individuals) should be isolated. Most infected people may return to work or school when their stools become formed as long as they carefully wash their hands after using the toilet. Food handlers, health care workers, and children in day care must obtain the approval of the Health Department before returning to their routine activities. This may require follow-up stool testing to be sure that they are no longer infectious.
How can yersiniosis be prevented?
Keep your food safe from bacteria.
  • Always treat raw poultry, beef, and pork as if they are potentially contaminated and handle accordingly: Wrap fresh meats in plastic bags at the market to prevent blood from dripping on other foods.
  • Refrigerate foods promptly; minimize holding at room temperature.
  • Cutting boards and counters used for preparation should be washed immediately after use to prevent cross contamination with other foods.
  • Ensure that the correct internal cooking temperatures are reached, particularly when using a microwave.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats.
  • Avoid using raw milk.

Wash hands often.

  • Always thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm running water before touching food, feeding infants, and after handling raw meat.
  • Encourage careful hand washing with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers, and before and after food preparation.
  • Make sure children, particularly those who handle pets, wash their hands carefully.

Last Updated: March 2012