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What is Yersiniosis?
Yersiniosis (yer-sin-ee-OH-sis) is a disease caused by Yersinia enterocolitica bacteria, which live in livestock and domestic animals and can be found in untreated water. Children are infected more often than adults, and the illness has a winter seasonal pattern. On average, there are 11 cases of yersiniosis reported in Indiana every year.
How is yersiniosis spread?
Yersinia bacteria are passed in the stool of animals and humans, and people can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with Yersinia (fecal-oral route). The bacteria are also found in unpasteurized milk and raw or undercooked meat, particularly pork products, such as chitterlings. Infection can also occur after contact with symptomatic, infected animals.
Although rare, yersiniosis can be spread from person to person, usually as a result of poor hand hygiene after using the restroom. Transmission can occur by touching items, such as soiled diapers or linens, that are contaminated with the stool of an infected person and then touching your mouth. If untreated, infected persons can shed the bacteria in their stool for several months.
What are the symptoms of yersiniosis?
Symptoms usually begin 3-7 days (up to 10 days) after exposure and last 1-3 weeks. In older children and adults, pain in the lower right side and fever can be the main symptoms and may be confused with appendicitis (infection of the appendix). Some people may also have a sore throat.
Are there complications from yersiniosis?
Most infections are uncomplicated and resolve completely. Some people may develop a skin rash on the legs and trunk called “erythema nodosum”; this occurs more commonly in women. Usually, the rash does not require treatment and goes away within a month. Joint pain, usually in the knees, ankles, or wrists, can occur in 2%-3% of cases. Joint pain usually begins about 1 month after diarrhea starts and goes away after 1 to 6 months. An infection of the bloodstream may occur in people with weakened immune systems or with too much iron in their blood. Death is extremely rare.
How do I know if I have yersiniosis?
A person having diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours should consult a health care provider. The health care provider may collect a stool, blood, or urine sample to test for Yersinia.
How is yersiniosis treated?
Most people recover within 5 to 7 days without medical treatment. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics for people with severe infection.
Is yersiniosis a reportable disease?
Yes. When a person is diagnosed with Yersinia through laboratory tests, the health care provider and laboratory must report the disease to the local health department (LHD) or the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) within 72 hours. The LHD will contact all cases diagnosed with Yersinia, so a possible exposure can be determined to help prevent others from becoming ill.
How can yersiniosis be prevented?
In general, Yersinia infections can be prevented by strictly adhering to the following guidelines:
Where can I learn more about yersiniosis?
To search Indiana data and statistics:
To search the Indiana Food Protection Program:
To search disease information:
To search for national data, statistics, and outbreaks:
Updated on January 9, 2009