Atlas of foodborne infections
transmitted by contaminated food and water

Atlas of Patogens Contents Information sources Glossary Administration

Yersinia enterocolitica

CZ: yersinie (?ti jerzýnyje)
EN: yersinia

Meat and Meat Products
Milk and Milk Products
Water and Beverages


Foodborne Disease:
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yersiniosis - fever, rightsided abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea sometimes skin rash and joint pains

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Y. enterocolitica belongs to a family of rod-shaped bacteria. Other species of bacteria in this family include Y. pseudotuberculosis, which causes an illness similar to Y. enterocolitica, and Y. pestis, which causes plague. Only a few strains of Y. enterocolitica cause disease Yersiniosis in humans. The major animal reservoir for Y. enterocolitica strains that cause human illness is pigs, but other strains are also found in many other animals including rodents, rabbits, sheep, cattle, horses, dogs, and cats. In pigs, the bacteria are most likely to be found on the tonsils.

Children are infected more often than adults, and the infection is more common in the winter. Common symptoms in children are fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea, which is often bloody. Symptoms typically develop 4 to 7 days after exposure and may last 1 to 3 weeks or longer. In older children and adults, rightsided abdominal pain and fever may be the predominant symptoms, and may be confused with appendicitis. In a small proportion of cases, complications such as skin rash, joint pains, or spread of bacteria to the bloodstream can occur.

Infection is most often acquired by eating contaminated food, especially raw or undercooked pork products. The preparation of raw pork intestines (chitterlings) may be particularly risky. Infants can be infected if their caretakers handle raw chitterlings and then do not adequately clean their hands before handling the infant or the infant’s toys, bottles, or pacifiers. Drinking contaminated unpasteurized milk or untreated water can also transmit the infection. Y.enterocolitica infections are generally diagnosed by detecting the organism in the stools.

Uncomplicated cases of diarrhea due to Y. enterocolitica usually resolve on their own without antibiotic treatment. Occasionally, some persons develop joint pain, most commonly in the knees, ankles or wrists. These joint pains usually develop about 1 month after the initial episode of diarrhoea and generally resolve after 1 to 6 months. A skin rash, called "erythema nodosum," may also appear on the legs and trunk.


Source: A magnified view of Yersinia enterocolitica - scan microscopy
Source: Detail of Yersinia colonies on agar
Source: Detail of Yersinia enterocolitica colonies on agar

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