Yersinia Enterocolitica


Yersinia enterocolitica is prevalent in soil, water, and animals, such as beavers, pigs, and squirrels.
Do Not Consume Raw Milk

Yersinia enterocolitica

Yersinia enterocolitica is prevalent in soil, water, and animals, such as beavers, pigs, and squirrels.  Yersinia can enter the food chain in places where there is poor sanitation, improper food handling, and inadequate storage. Among the foods that have been linked to illness from Yersinia are pork, unpasteurized milk, and oysters. Yersinia genus has 11 species among them 4 are pathogenic, but only Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis are linked to gastroenteritis. Both bacteria have been isolated from animals and fleas.

Yersinia enterocolitica transmission & complications

Reservoirs & Transmission


Yersinia enterocolitica reservoirs

Important Information

Yersinia enterocolitica may also grow at refrigeration temperature in vacuum-packed meat, boiled eggs, boiled fish, pasteurized liquid eggs, pasteurized whole milk, cottage cheese, and tofu. Growth of the microorganism can also occur in refrigerated seafood, such as oysters, raw shrimp, and cooked crab meat.



Yersinia enterocolitica symptoms

Susceptible Populations

Most susceptible to this food poisoning and complications are the very young populations, under the age of 10 years. Elderly and immunocompromised are also vulnerable to yersinia.

Yersinia enterocolitica/ Prevention

Keep Clean: Wash your hands before, during and after handling food. Wash utensils, cutting boards, and any surfaces that food touches and wash with hot soapy water after each use. Wash fruits and veggies with running tape water. Use paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces.

Separate Raw and Cooked: Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for raw (uncooked) produce and raw (uncooked) meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods while shopping and in the refrigerator.

Cook Thoroughly and Keep Food at Safe Temperature: Only a food thermometer can make sure meat, poultry, fish, and casseroles are cooked to a safe internal temperature. For example, internal temperatures should be 145°F or 63°C for whole meats (allow the meat to rest after cooking for 3 minutes at least) and fish, 160°F or 71°C for ground meats, and 165°F or 74°C for all poultry. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.

Chill: Use appliance thermometers to be sure your refrigerator is at or below 40ºF or  4°C and your freezer is 0ºF (-17.78°C) or below. Between 40ºF or 4°C and 140ºF or 60°, C is the Danger Zone, when bacteria can multiply rapidly. Generally, the more bacteria, the more likely someone will get sick. Most refrigerators have just a colder/ warmer adjustment, so the only way to know is to put a thermometer inside.

Thaw Food Properly: Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the countertop. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or the microwave should be cooked immediately.

Use pasteurized milk instead of raw milk, and also use products made from pasteurized milk, not raw milk.

Use Safe Water and Raw Material: Always use safe water or treat it before use.

Hand Washing

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
  • Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water. Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. Keep in mind, that sanitizers do not kill all types of germs. If your hands are visibly dirty, soap them and then use a sanitizer. They also might not remove chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals from your hands.

The presented information is an extract from the Guidelines for the Investigation and Control of Disease Outbreaks. Porirua: Institute of Environmental
Science & Research Limited; Updated 2011