Causes and Symptoms of Yersiniosis
Yersiniosis is an infectious disease caused by enteric bacteria of the
genus Yersinia. In the United States, most human illness is caused
by one species, Y. enterocolitica. Y. enterocolitica is a relatively
infrequent cause of diarrhea and abdominal pain.
- diarrhea (often bloody)
- abdominal pain and cramps
Infection with Y. enterocolitica can cause a variety of symptoms depending on the age of the person infected; infection with Y. enterocolitica occurs most often in young children.
In older children and adults, right-sided abdominal pain and fever may be the predominant symptoms, and may be confused with appendicitis.
Symptoms typically develop 4 to 7 days after exposure
- Symptoms may last 1 to 3 weeks or longer.
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.
Occasionally Y. enterocolitica infection occurs after contact with infected animals.
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. This may happen when basic hygiene and handwashing habits are inadequate. Rarely, the organism is transmitted through contaminated blood during a transfusion.
MDH fact sheet that answers some common questions about Yersinia.
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