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Yersiniosis is a gastrointestinal disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica or Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Symptoms often include fever, diarrhea, and stomach pain, and may include mesenteric lymphadenitis that mimics appendicitis.

The disease is relatively uncommon, with about 35 cases being reported in Wisconsin annually. Yersiniosis usually occurs as a single, isolated event; however, occasional outbreaks have been reported due to a common exposure.

Yersiniosis 101

Most people become infected by eating contaminated food, especially raw or undercooked pork, or through contact with a person who has prepared a pork product, such as chitlins. For example, babies and infants can be infected if their caretakers handle contaminated food and then do not wash their hands properly before handling the child or the child’s toys, bottles, or pacifiers.

People occasionally become infected after drinking contaminated milk or untreated water, or after contact with infected animals or their feces.

On rare occasions, people become infected through person-to-person contact. For example, caretakers can become infected if they do not wash their hands properly after changing the diaper of a child with yersiniosis.

Even more rarely, people may become infected through contaminated blood during a transfusion

The symptoms of yersiniosis depend on the age of the person infected. Infection occurs most often in young children. 

Common symptoms in children are fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, which is often bloody. 

Symptoms typically develop four to seven days after exposure and may last one to three weeks or longer. In older children and adults, right-sided abdominal pain and fever may be the predominant symptoms and may be confused with appendicitis. 

Complications are rare, and may include skin rash, joint pains, or spread of bacteria to the bloodstream.

Yersiniosis usually is diagnosed by detecting the bacteria in the stool of an infected person. Many laboratories do not routinely test for Yersinia, so it is important that the clinician notifies the laboratory when yersiniosis is suspected so that special tests can be done.

Yersiniosis usually goes away on its own without antibiotic treatment. However, antibiotics may be used to treat more severe or complicated infections.

To protect yourself and your family from yersiniosis:

Provider information

This is a Wisconsin disease surveillance category II disease:

Wisconsin case reporting and public health follow-up guidelines:

For testing information, call:
Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene Clinical Customer Service – 800-862-1013

Questions about Yersiniosis? Contact us!
Phone: 608-267-9003 | Fax: 608-261-4976

Wisconsin Local Health DepartmentsRegional officesTribal agencies

Last revised March 25, 2024