Yersinia enterocolitica

Yersinia enterocolitica

Compiled By: Julie A. Albrecht, Ph.D., Associate Professor

The Organism: Yersinia species are commonly found in a wide variety of animals, birds and environmental sources. Pigs are the most important animal source.

 PDF Fact Sheet

Sources of the organism:

  • Intestinal tracts of infected animals, poultry, and humans
  • Contaminated water

Associated foods:

  • Seafood
  • Meat (pork, beef, lamb, etc.)
  • Poultry
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Water

Microorganism Characteristics:  Gram negative rod shaped bacteria

Growth conditions:

  • Temperature range: 0-45°C (32-113°F)
  • Optimum Temperature: 37°C (98.6°F)
  • pH range: Tolerant of alkaline environments

The Disease: Yersiniosis is a gastroenteritis which mimics appendicitis. The disease is rare in the United States but more common in Europe.

Symptoms include:

  • Sharp pain in lower right quadrant of abdomen
  • (appendicitis-like symptom)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Complications may include reactive arthritis

Onset time:

  • 24-48 hours

Infective Dose:

  • Unknown

Duration of symptoms:

  • 1-3 weeks


  • Thoroughly cook meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Use pasteurized milk.
  • Proper sanitation of food contact surfaces and utensils.
  • Use proper hand washing techniques and personal hygiene practices.
  • Because Yersinia can grow at refrigeration temperatures, extended shelf-life refrigerated foods need to be handled and stored properly.