You've Got What? Yersinia infection
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Yersinia infection (yersiniosis) is a bacterial infection of the bowel (intestine) usually caused by Yersinia enterocolitica. It occurs worldwide, but is fairly uncommon.
Yersinia infection is a notifiable condition1
Many domesticated and wild animals carry Yersinia in their intestines. Spread to people occurs by eating food or water contaminated by infected human or animal faeces. Contact with infected pets and domestic stock may also cause infection.
Yersinia is able to multiply at temperatures in normal refrigerators, so sometimes if meat is kept without freezing large numbers of the bacteria may be present.
Yersinia is also occasionally transmitted by blood transfusion as it is able to multiply in stored blood products. This is why people are asked not to donate blood if they have had diarrhoea recently.
Symptoms vary with age and are commonest in young children. They include:
The diagnosis is usually made by a faecal specimen or by detecting Yersinia using a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test in a pathology laboratory.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
Symptoms typically develop 4 to 7 days after exposure.
(time during which an infected person can infect others)
Usually 2 to 3 weeks. If not treated with antibiotics, the organism may be shed in the faeces for 2 to 3 months.
Effective antibiotic treatment is available.
1 – In South Australia the law requires doctors and laboratories to report some infections or diseases to SA Health. These infections or diseases are commonly referred to as 'notifiable conditions'.