What is yersiniosis?
Yersiniosis is an illness that is caused by the bacterium called Yersinia enterocolitica. It generally affects the intestinal tract. It is a relatively uncommon illness and usually occurs as a single isolated case. Occasional outbreaks have been reported due to a common exposure.
Where are Yersinia bacteria found?
Animals, especially pigs, are the main source of Yersinia. Fecal wastes from animals may contaminate water, milk, and foods and become a source of infection for people or other animals
How do these bacteria spread?
Yersinia bacteria are spread 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. On rare occasions, it can be transmitted as a result of the bacterium passing from the stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person.
Who gets yersiniosis?
Any person can get yersiniosis, but it occurs more often in children.
What are the symptoms?
Infected people may experience mild or severe diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Sometimes, Yersinia infection may mimic appendicitis.
How soon do symptoms appear?
Symptoms generally appear 4 to 7 days after exposure.
How long can an infected person carry the germ?
The bacteria are passed in the feces during the time the person is experiencing diarrhea and in some cases for a few weeks or months afterward.
How is yersiniosis treated?
Most cases recover without treatment. Those with severe symptoms or bloodstream infections are generally treated with antibiotics.
How can yersiniosis be prevented?
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked pork.
- Drink only pasteurized milk or milk products.
- Wash hands with soap and water before eating and preparing food, after handling raw meat, and after contact with animals.
- After handling raw chitterlings, clean hands and fingernails with soap and water before touching infants or their toys, bottles, or pacifiers.
- Carefully clean all cutting boards, counter tops, and utensils with soap and hot water after preparing raw meat.
This fact sheet is for informational purposes only. It should not be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you think that you may have this infection, or have questions about the disease described above, you should consult your health care provider.
For additional information on this disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
To contact the Epidemiology and Emerging Infections Program, please call 860-509-7994.