Yersiniosis is most often acquired by eating contaminated food, especially raw or undercooked pork products. The preparation of raw pork intestines (called 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 cause infection.
Occasionally, transmission occurs after contact with infected animals. On rare occasions, the disease is a result of the bacteria passing from the stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person. This may occur when basic hygiene and handwashing habits are inadequate. Rarely, yersiniosis occurs with a transfusion of contaminated blood.
When a person becomes infected with Yersinia enterocolitica, the bacteria begin to multiply. After four to seven days, symptoms can begin. The period between becoming infected and the start of symptoms is called the incubation period.
Yersiniosis symptoms can vary, depending on the age of the person infected.
Symptoms in Young Children
This disease occurs most often in young children. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
- Diarrhea, which in 5 percent of children is bloody.
Signs of yersiniosis in children may last one to three weeks or longer.