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Cause: Bacteria in the genus Yersinia, usually Y. enterocolitica.

Illness and treatment: Symptoms are acute fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain that may mimic appendicitis. Complications are uncommon. Antibiotics may be used for severe cases.

Sources: Wild and domestic animals, particularly pigs, are reservoirs. Transmission occurs by ingesting contaminated food or water, or by direct contact with animals. Raw or undercooked pork and pork products, such as chitterlings, have been particularly associated with the illness. Person-to-person transmission appears to be rare.

Additional risks: Illness is more severe in children. Yersinia can multiply under refrigeration.

Prevention: Do not eat undercooked or raw pork or unpasteurized milk. Wash hands thoroughly after touching animals or raw pork and before eating. Dispose of animal feces in a sanitary way.

Recent Washington trends: Rates have been stable with about 15 to 30 reports each year.

Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance

  • To identify outbreaks and potential sources of ongoing transmission
  • To prevent further transmission from such sources
  • To educate people about how to reduce their risk of infection

Legal Reporting Requirements

  • Health care providers: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours
  • Health care facilities: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours
  • Laboratories: Yersinia enterocolitica or pseudotuberculosis notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours. Specimen submission is on request only
  • Local health jurisdictions: notifiable to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Communicable Disease Epidemiology (CDE) within 7 days of case investigation completion or summary information required within 21 days