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Epidemiology of yersiniosis

Author
Robert V Tauxe, MD, MPH
Section Editor
Stephen B Calderwood, MD
Deputy Editor
Allyson Bloom, MD

INTRODUCTION

The genus Yersinia includes 11 species, three of which are important human pathogens: Yersinia pestis, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis [1]. The yersinioses are zoonotic infections of domestic and wild animals; humans are considered incidental hosts that do not contribute to the natural disease cycle.

Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis cause yersiniosis, a diarrheal illness. Illness due to Y. enterocolitica is more common than illness due to Y. pseudotuberculosis. Overall, Y. enterocolitica infection occurs more frequently in Europe than in North America [2].

The epidemiology of yersiniosis (infection with Y. enterocolitica or Y. pseudotuberculosis) will be reviewed here. The microbiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of yersiniosis are discussed separately. (See "Microbiology and pathogenesis of Yersinia infections" and "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Yersinia infections" and "Treatment and prevention of Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis infection".)

Y. pestis causes plague and is discussed separately. (See "Epidemiology, microbiology and pathogenesis of plague (Yersinia pestis infection)" and "Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of plague (Yersinia pestis infection)".)

RESERVOIRS OF INFECTION

Y. enterocolitica strains have been isolated from a variety of vertebrate hosts, including domesticated animals as well as wildlife [3]. Healthy pigs are frequently colonized with strains that cause human illness, such as serotype O:3 and serotype O:9. In pigs, the organism colonizes the tonsils and other oropharyngeal lymphoid tissues; from these sites it can be shed into the gastrointestinal tract. Y. enterocolitica in swine herds may spread as pigs are transferred from one pig farm to another, and then can persist on a farm for many years [4]. The organisms can contaminate retail pork products, including neck trimmings, tonsillar tissue, tongue, and tripe, and can be transferred to other cuts of meat during slaughter [5,6]. Y. pseudotuberculosis has been isolated from a variety of mammals and birds. It causes epizootic disease in European brown hares in Northern Europe, sheep in Australia, and farmed deer in New Zealand [7-9].

     

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Fri Sep 11 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2015.
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