Diarrhea Home > Yersiniosis

Yersiniosis is an illness caused by a certain type of bacteria. Occasionally, the bacteria are transmitted through contact with infected animals or the soiled hands of an infected person. However, the disease is most often acquired by eating contaminated food, especially raw or undercooked pork products. In most cases, treatment is not required, and the diarrhea resolves on its own. Antibiotics are required in more severe cases.

What Is Yersiniosis?

Yersiniosis is an infectious disease caused by Yersinia enterocolitica. Although Yersinia enterocolitica are primarily found in northern Europe and North America, worldwide, 1 to 3 percent of diarrhea illnesses are caused by these bacteria.

Understanding Yersinia Enterocolitica

Yersinia enterocolitica are Gram-negative bacteria. They were formerly classified in the Pasteurellaceae family, but based on their similarities to Escherichia coli (E. coli), the Yersinia group has been reclassified as members of the Enterobacteriaceae family. Other bacteria in the Yersinia family include Yersinia pestis, which causes plague, and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, which causes similar symptoms to Yersinia enterocolitica.
The major animal reservoir for Yersinia enterocolitica strains that cause human illness is pigs. Other animals that can transmit the bacteria include:
  • Rodents
  • Rabbits
  • Sheep
  • Cattle
  • Horses
  • Dogs
  • Cats.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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