is a bacterium that causes yersiniosis,
a gastrointestinal disease linked to contaminated food. It is often
isolated from clinical specimens such as wounds, feces, sputum and
mesenteric lymph nodes. However, it is not part of the normal human
has been isolated from the
diseased appendix of humans. Both organisms have often been
isolated from such animals as pigs, birds, beavers, cats, and dogs.
has been detected in environmental
and food sources, such as ponds, lakes, meats, ice cream, and milk.
Most isolates have been found not to be pathogenic.
gastroenteritis. To date, no foodborne outbreaks caused by
have been reported in the United States, but
human infections transmitted via contaminated water and foods have
been reported in Japan.
Yersiniosis is frequently characterized by such symptoms as
gastroenteritis with diarrhea and/or vomiting. However, fever and
abdominal pain are the hallmark symptoms.
infections mimic appendicitis and mesenteric lymphadenitis, but the
bacteria may also cause infections of other sites such as wounds,
joints and the urinary tract.
Diagnosis of yersiniosis begins with isolation of the organism
from the infected person's feces, blood, or vomit, and sometimes at
the time of appendectomy. Diarrhea is reported to occur in about
80% of cases. Abdominal pain and fever are the most reliable
symptoms. Because of the difficulties in isolating
from feces, several countries rely on blood analyses. Yersiniosis
has been misdiagnosed as Chord's disease (regional enteritis) as
well as appendicitis.
can be found in meats (pork,
beef, lamb, etc.), oysters, fish, and raw milk. The exact cause of
the food contamination is unknown. However, the prevalence of this
organism in the soil and water and in animals such as beavers,
pigs, and squirrels, offers ample opportunities for it to enter our
food supply. Poor sanitation and improper sterilization techniques
by food handlers, including improper storage, cannot be overlooked
as contributing to contamination.
Yersiniosis does not occur frequently. It is rare unless a
breakdown occurs in food processing techniques. CDC estimates that
about 17,000 cases occur annually in the USA. Yersiniosis is a far
more common disease in Northern Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan.
The major "complication" is the performance of unnecessary
, since one of the main symptoms of infections
is abdominal pain of the lower right quadrant. Both
, which may occur even in
the absence of obvious symptoms. The frequency of such
postenteritis arthritic conditions is about 2-3%. Another
(entrance of organisms into the
blood stream), in which case the possibility of a disseminating
disease may occur. This is rare, however, and fatalities are also
The most susceptible populations for the main disease and
possible complications are the very young, the debilitated, the
very old and persons undergoing immunosuppressive therapy. Those
most susceptible to postenteritis arthritis are individuals with
the antigen HLA-B27 (or related antigens such as B7).