Occupational Safety

Enteric Yersiniosis

Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis are present in a wide variety of wild and domestic animals, which are considered natural reservoirs for the organisms. The host species for Yersinia enterocolitica include rodents, rabbits, pigs, sheep, cattle, horses, dogs, and cats. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis has a similar host spectrum and also includes various avian species.

Human infections have often been associated with household pets, particularly sick puppies and kittens. Occasional reports of Yersinia infections in animals housed in the laboratory suggest that zoonotic Yersinia infections should not be overlooked in this environment.

Yersinia spp. are transmitted by direct contact with infected animals through the fecal-oral route.

Yersinia enterocolitica produces a gastroenterocolitis syndrome characterized by fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, ulcerative mucosal lesions occur in the terminal ileum; they are often accompanied by mesenteric lymphadenitis mimicking the clinical presentation of acute appendicitis. Other serious sequelae of infection include postinfectious arthritis, iritis, skin ulceration, hepatosplenic abscesses, osteomyelitis, and septicemia.

Laboratory animals with yersiniosis should be isolated and treated or culled from the colony. Personnel should rely on the use of protective clothing, personal hygiene, and sanitation measures to prevent the transmission of the disease.