What is yersiniosis?
Yersiniosis is a form of gastroenteritis caused by the bacteria Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Many animals can act as hosts for these bacteria but pigs are the commonest reservoir. Yersiniosis is a notifiable disease in Ireland.

How is yersiniosis spread?
Yersiniosis is generally spread by eating raw/undercooked meat. Occasionally, there can be spread from pets, food or drink. These bacteria can multiply at low temperatures (down to 40C, the temperature found in a domestic fridge).

Who is at risk of developing yersiniosis?
Anyone who comes in contact with contaminated pork is at risk, though children and adolescents are most affected.  
What are the symptoms of yersiniosis?
After an incubation period of 3-7 days, the patient tends to develop fever, diarrhoea and abdominal pain in the right lower part of the abdomen. This can mimic appendicitis (in fact normal appendices have been removed in children only for Yesinia to be found in the child's stool later). In addition, yersiniosis can present as erythema nodosum (skin swellings) and Reiter's syndrome (inflammation of eyes and joints).

How common is yersiniosis?
Yersiniosis is not common; there tend to be fewer than half a dozen cases notified in Ireland each year.

How is yersiniosis diagnosed?
Diagnosis is based on finding yersinia in a sample of the patients stool.

What is the treatment for yersiniosis?
For yersiniosis, simple measures such as rehydration are all that are required. The body will expel and naturally develop immunity to yersinia.

Can yersiniosis be prevented?
The best ways to protect yourself again yersiniosis is to ensure that you wash your hands regularly and take care when preparing food. In addition, all pork should be thoroughly cooked until all juices run clear.

Last updated: 13th July 2010