Yersiniosis

Yersiniosis

Yersiniosis is a relatively uncommon infection contracted through the consumption of undercooked meat products (especially pork), unpasteurized milk, or contaminated water.

Usually, someone with an infection caused by Yersinia bacteria recovers within a few days without medical treatment (in some cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics).

About Yersiniosis

Of the three main types of yersiniosis that affect people, Yersinia enterocolitica (bacteria that thrive in cooler temperatures) are responsible for most infections in the United States. The infection seems to be more common in cooler climates.

Body Basics: Digestive System

The bacteria can infect the digestive tracts of humans, cats, dogs, pigs, cattle, and goats. People can contract it by eating or handling contaminated foods (such as raw or undercooked meat) or by drinking untreated water or unpasteurized milk that contain the bacteria.

An infant can be infected if a parent or caretaker handles contaminated food without cleaning up adequately before handling the baby's toys, bottles, or pacifiers.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of yersiniosis appear 4-7 days after exposure and can last up to 3 weeks. They include fever, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Sometimes, older kids also get pain in the lower right side of the abdomen, which can mimic appendicitis. Some people also have a sore throat along with other symptoms.

If your child has these symptoms, call your doctor. For infants, it's particularly important to call the doctor as soon as symptoms appear to prevent the infection from leading to other health problems.

In rare cases, the infection can cause a skin rash called erythema nodosum, or joint pain that appears a month after the initial symptoms. The rash usually occurs on the legs and trunk. The joint pain is usually in the larger joints and is thought to be due to an immune system response. These symptoms typically go away with time but can last several months.

The diagnosis of Yersinia can be confirmed with a stool culture. If the Yersinia infection leads to an infection of the blood, known as bacteremia, it can be confirmed with a blood culture.

Treatment

Diarrhea caused by yersiniosis generally goes away on its own, though in some cases antibiotics are prescribed. In infants, however — particularly those who are 3 months old or younger — it can develop into bacteremia. Infants who contract yersiniosis are usually treated in a hospital.

Depending on the severity of the diarrhea, your doctor may suggest modifying your child's diet for 1 or 2 days and encouraging your child to drink more fluids (which may include drinks with electrolytes to replace body fluids quickly).

If your child has frequent bouts of diarrhea, watch for signs of dehydration, including:

Prevention

To reduce the risk of yersiniosis, take these precautions:

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if your child:

With some rest, kids with yersiniosis usually make a full recovery quickly.

Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: July 2012





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.
Web SiteCDC: Travelers' Health Look up vaccination requirements for travel destinations, get updates on international outbreaks, and more, searachable by country.
Related Articles
Word! Bacteria If you're feeling crummy, it's probably because nasty bacteria or some other germs have gotten into your body and made you sick.
Selecting Safe Pets Selecting the right pet is a serious decision that your family should make together. Before you choose a pet, check out these tips and suggestions.
Hand Washing Did you know that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands? If you don't wash your hands frequently, you can pick up germs from other sources and then infect yourself.
Food Poisoning The germs that get into food and cause food poisoning are tiny, but can have a powerful effect on the body. Find out what to do if you get food poisoning - and how to prevent it.
Why Should I Care About Germs? Germs are tiny organisms that can cause disease - and they're so small that they can creep into your system without you noticing. Find out how to protect yourself.
E. Coli Undercooked burgers and unwashed produce are among the foods that can harbor E. coli bacteria and lead to infection marked by severe diarrhea. Here's how to protect your family.
Fever and Taking Your Child's Temperature Although it can be frightening when your child's temperature rises, fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing - it's often the body's way of fighting infections.
What Are Germs? Germs are the microscopic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that can cause disease. With a little prevention, you can keep harmful germs out of your family's way.
Food Poisoning Did you ever eat something that made you feel ooky? It might have been food poisoning.
Salmonella Infections Salmonellosis is a foodborne illness caused by the bacteria salmonella. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headache.
Campylobacter Infections These bacterial infections can cause diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever. Good hand-washing and food safety habits can prevent them.
Gastrointestinal Infections and Diarrhea Nearly everybody gets diarrhea every once in a while, and it's usually caused by gastrointestinal infections. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. Read this article to learn more.
Being Safe in the Kitchen Cooking and baking are lots of fun - as long as you stay safe. Read this article for safety tips before you head into the kitchen.
E. Coli E. coli is a common type of bacteria that can make you pretty sick. Read more in this article for kids.
Food Poisoning Sometimes, germs can get into food and cause food poisoning. Find out what to do if your child gets food poisoning - and how to prevent it.
Shigella Infections Shigella are bacteria that can infect the digestive tract and cause a wide range of symptoms, from diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, and nausea, to more serious complications and illnesses.
Shigellosis Shigellosis is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria that can give a person bloody diarrhea and cause intestinal pain. Good hand washing is the best way to prevent shigellosis.
Stool Test: Bacteria Culture A stool culture helps doctors determine if there's a bacterial infection in the intestines.
Stool Tests Your child's doctor may order a stool collection test to check for blood, bacteria, ova, or parasites. Find out how this test is performed and when you can expect the results.
What Are Germs? You know they can hurt you, but what are these invisible creatures? Find out in this article for kids.
Salmonellosis People often think of salmonellosis as food poisoning, but food is only one way the bacteria Salmonella can be spread.
Salmonellosis Salmonellosis is an illness caused by a bacteria found in raw food, soil, water and the bowel movements of some animals, including reptiles. Find out how to prevent this illness.
Why Do I Have to Wash My Hands After Using the Bathroom? Wash after you flush! Find out why in this article for kids.
Why Do I Need to Wash My Hands? Washing your hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. Learn all about the best way to wash your hands in this article for kids.
Food Safety Learn why food safety is important and how you can avoid the spread of bacteria when you are buying, preparing, and storing food.
Food Safety for Your Family Why is food safety important? And how can you be sure your kitchen and the foods you prepare in it are safe?
E. Coli Undercooked burgers and unwashed produce are among the foods that can harbor E. coli bacteria and lead to infection and severe diarrhea. Here's how to protect yourself.
Listeria Infections Listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with a bacterium, primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. Some simple precautions can protect your family from infection.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter