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Yersiniosis

What Is Yersiniosis?

Yersiniosis is an infection caused by yersiniabacteria. People can get it from eating undercooked meat (especially pork) or drinking unpasteurized milk or contaminated water.

Most people with yersiniosis (yer-sin-ee-OH-siss) get better quickly.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Yersiniosis?

Symptoms of yersiniosis include:

  • fever
  • stomach pain
  • nausea (feeling sick to the stomach)
  • vomiting (throwing up)
  • diarrhea with blood in it
  • a sore throat

It isn’t common, but about a month after symptoms start, some people can get a skin rash or joint pain that can last several months.

What Causes Yersiniosis?

The bacteria (a type of germ) that cause yersiniosis can infect the digestive tracts of humans, cats, dogs, pigs, cattle, and goats. People get yersiniosis by eating or touching food or drink that’s infected with the bacteria. A baby can get it if a caregiver handles infected food without cleaning their hands before touching the baby's toys, bottles, or pacifiers.

How Is Yersiniosis Diagnosed?

Doctors usually diagnose yersiniosis with stool tests. Sometimes a blood test also can find the bacteria.

How is Yersiniosis Treated?

Symptoms of yersiniosis usually go away on their own in 1–3 weeks. Doctors will prescribe antibiotics if an infection is severe. Babies who get yersiniosis usually are treated in a hospital to make sure they don’t get dehydrated or have other problems.

If your child has yersiniosis, follow your doctor’s care instructions.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Call your doctor if your child:

  • has a lot of blood in the poop
  • is vomiting a lot and can’t keep any food or drink down
  • has belly pain
  • has symptoms that get worse or don’t get better in a few days
  • seems dehydrated; signs include extreme thirst, a dry mouth, sunken eyes, and peeing less often than usual
  • is 3 months or younger and has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
  • is over 3 months and has a fever that gets higher or lasts for more than 2 days

Can Yersiniosis Be Prevented?

To help prevent yersiniosis:

  • Don't serve or eat raw or undercooked meat.
  • Drink and serve only pasteurized milk and milk products.
  • Wash hands with soap and water before eating and preparing food; before touching infants or their toys, bottles, or pacifiers; and after contact with animals or handling raw meat.
  • Use separate cutting boards for meat and other foods.
  • Clean all cutting boards, countertops, and utensils with soap and hot water after preparing raw meat. Or run them through the dishwasher.
  • Always cook meat thoroughly before you eat it, especially pork products.
  • Clean up animal poop and clean any area that the poop touched.
  • Avoid drinking directly from natural water sources such as ponds and mountain streams, particularly if the water is near farmland where cattle, pigs, or goats are raised.
  • If your pet dog or cat has diarrhea, wash your hands well and often as you care for it, and check with your veterinarian about treatment.
Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021