Yersiniosis is an infection caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Yersinia. It is the species Yersinia enterocolitica which is responsible for most infections. Otherwise, the other species, Y. Pseudotuberculosis, is also a cause of the disease. The bacteria act at the level of the alimentary canal, most specifically at the intestines. These two species should not be confused with another species of Yersinia, known as Y. pestis, which is the cause of plague, which is a completely different disease altogether.
Yersiniosis is a very uncommon disease; not many cases occur.
Who can get infected with Yersiniosis?
Young children are the ones most prone to contract the bacteria. Besides young children, mostly anyone can contract the infection.
How are the bacteria propagated?
- Consuming foods and drinks contaminated with the Yersinia bacteria.
- Contact with an infected person or animal.
What are the symptoms of Yersiniosis?
The symptoms begin to appear approximately a week (4 to 7 days) after infection. The symptoms appear in terms of age.
Children have the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea, often bloody. Additionally, mucoid may also be spotted in the diarrhea.
Older children and adults have other characteristic symptoms:
- Pain experienced at the right side of the abdomen
- Symptoms may be confused with appendicitis
And, more rarely:
- Skin rash
- Joint pains
- Acute arthritis
- Bacteremia: a condition whereby the bacteria spread to the blood vessels
Source of Yersinia
The main source sheltering the bacteria are animals which expel them in their faeces. Faecal wastes from pigs specially are able to contaminate water and foods. Pigs usually have the variant Y. enterocolitica, while the other species Y. pseudotuberculosis is found in rodents, lagomorphs, and birds.
From animals, the infection is spread to both animals and humans. Raw milk, shellfish, improperly pasterised milk and wild and domestic animals have all ben recorded to have contained the bacteria.
Treatment for Yersiniosis
Specific treatment is not needed in most cases as the disease subsides on its own. Those with severe symptoms can be treated with antibiotics; this is specially the case who have their bloodstream invaded by the bacteria.
How To Prevent Yersiniosis?
- Make sure not to drink raw milk; always choose pasteurised milk
- Avoid drinking untreated water
- Take precautions when handling raw meat, and not placing raw meat near cooked food, to avoid cross-contamination
- After preparing food, wash hands and cooking utensils properly
- Good hygiene during slaughtering of animals
- Good hygiene for preparation and production of food