Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

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Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

Yersinia

Epidemiology

Infection with non-plague Yersinia spp. is an important cause of gastrointestinal illness in Northern Europe, thought to be responsible for up to 4% of cases of diarrhoea. Transmission is mainly from contaminated animal products, especially those derived from pigs, although most animal species can carry the organism. Consumption of raw or undercooked pork products is therefore a risk factor, as is consumption of unpasteurised milk. The organism can continue to grow at low temperatures, such as those found in refrigerators, so long-term refrigeration of meat can also be a risk factor. Rarely, person-to-person spread can also occur. Most cases of disease occur in children under 10 years of age.

Main clinical features

Diarrhoea accompanied by fever and abdominal pain, with vomiting in some cases. Infection with Y. pseudotuberculosis can produce a syndrome which is difficult to distinguish from appendicitis. The duration of illness is usually 2 to 3 weeks, but long-term sequelae such as arthritis can occur.

Incubation period

Usually 4 - 7 days, but ranging from 2 - 11 days.

Surveillance

Voluntary laboratory reports.

Surveillance Tables