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Facts About...


What is it?

Yersinia are bacteria that cause an intestinal disease known as yersiniosis. A person’s age may determine various symptoms and the severity of the disease.

Yersiniosis is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Health Department.

How is it spread?

Yersinia are spread when hands are not washed after defecation and bacteria remaining on the hands contaminate food or water. The bacteria will remain in the feces as long as symptoms persist, usually 2-3 weeks. Contact with animals, especially pigs, and ingestion of raw or undercooked pork products may lead to infection. Human cases have been reported in association with infected household pets, especially puppies and kittens.

What do I look for?

Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain, especially in young children. An appendicitis-like syndrome may occur in older children and adults. In one quarter of cases, bloody diarrhea is present.

The incubation period is 3-7 days.

How is it treated?

Yersiniosis can be effectively treated with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

Untreated cases may excrete the organism for 2-3 months.

How can I protect myself?

Wash your hands after defecation, changing diapers and handling animals. Also, wash your hands before and after handling and eating food. Ensure hands are washed for a minimum of 15 seconds with warm water and soap and dry with a single use towel.

Treatment of drinking water will control the spread of infection. Always drink water from a safe supply. If you have a private well, test the water for bacteria at least 4 times per year. The Health Department will supply sample bottles and assist with interpretation of results.

If you have yersiniosis, do not prepare food for others until laboratory tests indicate you are free of infection. Cases with diarrhea must be removed from food handling, patient care and child care setting occupations.

Dispose of dog and cat feces in a sanitary manner.

Do not drink unpasteurized milk.

More information can be obtained from

Durham Region Health Department, Environmental Help Line 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613


April 22, 2013