Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Yersiniosis is a bacterial disease that usually affects the intestinal tract. It is caused by a bacterium of the genus Yersinia. In The United States, most human yersiniosis is caused by the species Yersinia enterocolitica. Yersiniosis is more frequently found in cooler climates, and occurs more often in winter than summer. Anyone can get yersiniosis, but most cases occur in children and young adults.

Yersiniosis is contracted through the consumption of contaminated water, unpasteurized milk, and undercooked meat products. Yersinia bacteria are spread by eating or drinking food or water that is contaminated with feces from an infected human or animal. Animals, especially pigs, are the main source of Yersinia. Wastes from infected animals may contaminate water, milk and foods, and become a source of infection for people and other animals. The bacteria have also been found in cold cuts, raw or improperly processed milk, ice cream, tofu, shellfish, lakes and streams, and both wild and domestic animals.

Based on data from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), which measures the burden and sources of specific diseases over time, approximately one culture-confirmed Y. enterocolitica infection per 100,000 persons occurs each year. Children are infected more often than adults, and the infection is more common in the winter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors the frequency of Yersiniosis infections through the FoodNet. In addition, CDC conducts investigations of outbreaks of yersiniosis to control them and to learn more about how to prevent these infections. CDC has collaborated in an educational campaign to increase public awareness about prevention of Yersiniosis infections. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects imported foods and milk pasteurization plants and promotes better food preparation techniques in restaurants and food processing plants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors the health of food animals and is responsible for the quality of slaughtered and processed meat. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates and monitors the safety of our drinking water supplies.


Symptoms of yersiniosis appear 4-7 days after exposure and can last up to 3 weeks. They include feverYersiniosis, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Sometimes, older kids also get pain in the lower right side of the abdomen, which can mimic appendicitis. Some people also have a sore throat along with other symptoms.

In rare cases, the infection can cause a skin rash called erythema nodosum, or joint pain that appears a month after the initial symptoms. The rash usually occurs on the legs and trunk. The joint pain is usually in the larger joints and is thought to be due to an immune system response. These symptoms typically go away with time but can last several months.


Yersiniosis is usually diagnosed by a lab test called a stool culture. Your health care provider will provide the special container you need to collect a stool specimen. Many laboratories do not routinely test for Yersinia. Therefore, it is important to notify laboratory personnel when infection with this bacterium is suspected so special tests can be run. It usually takes several days before the test results are ready.


Most infections are uncomplicated and resolve completely. Occasionally, some people develop joint pain, most commonly in the knees, ankles or wrists. These joint pains usually develop about one month after the first episode of diarrhea, and will go away after one to six months. In approximately 10 percent of adults, a skin rash, called "erythema nodosum," may appear on the legs and trunk; this is more common in women, and generally goes away by itself within a month.

Preventive Measures:

    Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers, before and after food preparation, and after handling animals.

  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats, especially pork.

  • Wash cutting boards, utensils and food preparation counters immediately after use.

  • Consume milk or milk products only if they have been pasteurized.

  • Prevent cross-contamination of food. Never let raw meats or their juices come in contact with any other food.

  • After handling raw chitterlings, clean hands and fingernails well with soap and water before touching infants or their toys, bottles or pacifiers.

  • Someone other than the food handler should care for children while chitterlings are being prepared.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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