Yersiniosis is an illness caused when people eat undercooked meat that has been contaminated with the yersinia bacteria. People with yersiniosis have the bacteria in their poo, and they can spread the illness to others if they don’t wash their hands. The most common signs of the illness are diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting. Most cases of yersiniosis go away in a few days, but infants can be at risk for a more serious infection.
What Causes yersiniosis?
Yersiniosis is caused by bacteria called yersinia. The bacteria live in animals, and people get it from eating meat that hasn’t been cooked well enough. You can also get sick from unpasteurised milk and contaminated water. People who have yersiniosis carry the bacteria in their poo. They can spread the illness to other people if they don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.
Is yersiniosis serious?
Yersiniosis is a common cause of diarrhoea, and it usually isn’t serious. Most of the time, the illness goes away on its own. In very serious cases, the bacteria can enter the blood and infect other parts of the body, but this is rare. Babies are most at risk from becoming seriously ill from yersiniosis.
Can I prevent yersiniosis?
The best way to prevent your kids from yersiniosis is by ensuring they practice good hygiene. Teach your kids that the best way to keep from getting sick is to wash their hands often and for at least ten seconds. You should also wash your hands after changing your child’s nappies, and when helping them use the bathroom. You should also wash your hands when preparing food, especially after handling meats such as chicken and pork, to prevent cross contamination between foods.
How do I know if my child has yersiniosis?
You may not know your child has yersiniosis. Since the most common sign of yersiniosis is diarrhoea, you will probably not know exactly what caused it. Like many other bacterial infections, yersiniosis can also cause fever, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. In severe infections, your child may have abdominal pain that looks a lot like appendicitis.
How do I treat yersiniosis?
Yersiniosis usually goes away on its own after a few days. While your child is sick, keep her home, make sure she gets rest and plenty of fluids, and use paracetamol for fever. Babies with yersiniosis and older children with severe cases might need to take antibiotics and be hospitalized while they are sick. Keep your child home to prevent infecting other children.
Should I call the doctor?
Always call the doctor if your baby appears to have yersiniosis. Also, call the doctor right away if your child has signs of dehydration, which may include a lack of tears when she cries, dry mouth, sunken eyes, and fewer wet nappies.
What you need to know about yersiniosis
- Yersiniosis is a bacterial illness caused by undercooked meat, unpasteurised milk, and contaminated water.
- Yersiniosis can be spread from person to person if you don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom or handling nappies.
- Most children who get yersiniosis recover in a few days, but serious cases might need antibiotic treatment.
Find more relevant articles and information about yersiniosis:
- Read more about Stomach and intestinal infections
- Find more about bacterial and viral infections
- Learn how to teach kids to wash their hands
- Know more about appendicitis.
- Read more about diarrhoea.
This article was written for Kidspot New Zealand.
Last revised: Monday, 18 January 2010
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.