By | June 10, 2022

Yersiniosis is an infectious disease with severe diarrhea, pain and cramps in the abdominal area, and flare-ups of fever. It is caused by a bacteria called Yersinia. As a contagious disease, yersiniosis is notifiable.

What is yersiniosis?

Yersiniosis occurs all over the world, in Germany, according to statistics, most frequently in the new federal states of Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Saxony. For meaning of interstitial nephritis in English, please visit

The reasons for this are not yet known. Both animals and humans can be affected. The triggering bacteria called Yersinia were first discovered by the Swiss bacteriologist Jean Yersin in Hong Kong. In medical practice, yersiniosis is often confused with appendicitis or a harmless disease in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to incorrect treatment and further infections.

Due to the high risk of infection, the disease is notifiable and has been included in the list of animal diseases in Switzerland.


The bacteria that cause the disease, called Yersinia, usually nest in animal tissue. Therefore, yersiniosis very often breaks out after direct contact with ingestion of raw animal fibers.

Poor hygiene when handling raw food of animal origin is the most common trigger for the disease. The bacteria can be transmitted through raw unpasteurized milk straight from the cow’s udder, through eggs contaminated with chicken faeces, or through raw meat contaminated with bacteria, such as tartare.

Very often, the disease is caused by poor hygiene when preparing food. Cutting raw meat on a wooden board, on which salad is then prepared and eaten raw, can lead to infection.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The first symptoms of the disease appear about seven to ten days after infection. The type and intensity of the symptoms of yersiniosis depends heavily on the age and general state of health of the sufferer. In most cases, sufferers have watery or pasty diarrhea. In addition, there is severe cramping abdominal pain, which in adolescents and adults can resemble the symptoms of acute appendicitis.

In young children, abdominal pain is initially nonspecific. Vomiting and nausea are common. Those affected usually also have a fever. Sometimes chills and circulatory problems occur. Swelling of the lymph nodes is often seen in children and adolescents.

Sluggish bowels and a hard abdominal wall rarely occur. In the case of severe yersiniosis, other organs such as the liver can be colonized by abscesses. Affected people with a weak immune system are at risk of sepsis and a number of different secondary diseases.

Although the symptoms typically disappear after about two weeks, the pathogen remains detectable. For this reason, severe skin rashes and joint inflammation occur in a few cases a few weeks after infection. Yersiniosis can rarely go completely unnoticed without symptoms.

Diagnosis & History

The diagnosis can only be made definitively after the examination of blood and stool in the laboratory. After infection, several days pass before the first symptoms of the disease appear.

The bacteria that cause yersiniosis settle in the intestines and cause inflammation. This manifests itself in severe diarrhea, cramping abdominal pain and severe nausea. The illness can last from several days to two months. It usually goes away on its own.

In some cases, yersiniosis can lead to chronic inflammation in the small intestine, painful inflammatory nodules forming under the skin, and inflamed, swollen joints. These late effects usually appear a few days to weeks after the actual disease has subsided.


In the worst case, yersiniosis can lead to the death of the affected person. For this reason, it must always be treated medically. As a rule, those affected by this disease suffer from very severe diarrhea and nausea. As a result, the patient loses a lot of fluid and important nutrients and vitamins, which can lead to dehydration and deficiency symptoms.

Severe cramps in the stomach and abdominal pain also occur with yersiniosis and have a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected. Fever and tiredness and exhaustion continue to occur in the patient. The disease can also lead to inflammation of the intestines; self-healing does not occur with the disease. Treatment of yersiniosis is carried out without complications with the help of drugs.

Further treatment is usually not necessary. In some cases, sufferers depend on supplements to compensate for the nutrient loss. The course of the disease is always positive. The life expectancy of those affected is not negatively affected.

When should you go to the doctor?

Persistent or increasingly severe diarrhea should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. If cramps in the abdomen or pain occur, the affected person needs medical care. Nausea, vomiting, fever and a general feeling of being unwell indicate an existing illness. A diagnosis and subsequent treatment are required to alleviate the symptoms. Swelling of the lymph, changes in skin texture, and abdominal pain should be presented to a doctor.

These are warning signals from the organism that arise as a result of an illness. Further medical tests are needed to clarify the cause. In the case of mobility impairments, a feeling of illness or a decrease in physical performance, a doctor’s visit is necessary. Chills, exhaustion or weakness are also indications that should be followed up.

A loss of body weight, loss of appetite and internal dryness should be examined more closely by a doctor. Since it can lead to numerous complications or consequential damage in the organism if left untreated, a doctor should be consulted if the irregularities last for several days. In addition, a doctor should be consulted immediately if the symptoms increase. People who have a weak immune system are well advised to consult a doctor and have themselves examined at the first sign of health problems.

Treatment & Therapy

If you are otherwise in good physical condition, doctors recommend avoiding treatment with medication and letting the body heal itself and let the yersiniosis subside on its own.

They assume that the organism of healthy patients with an immune system that is not already damaged can deal with the bacteria on its own and kill them. Due to their weaker immune system, small children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are more at risk.

You should definitely be under medical supervision possibly with hospitalization. Because of the severe diarrhea and the associated risk of dehydration, we recommend drinking plenty of fluids in the form of water or unsweetened herbal tea. To compensate for the leaching of vital mineral salts such as potassium and sodium, an electrolyte solution with these salts can be given from the pharmacy.

Under no circumstances should the diarrhea be stopped with medication, because it drives the toxins out of the body. Only when the diarrhea gets worse and becomes watery is it necessary to take medication. When symptoms subside, a bland diet such as vegetable soup, boiled carrots with grated apple, or mashed bananas can be given. In extremely stubborn cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics to control yersiniosis.


Meticulous cleanliness and hygiene when handling raw animal foods is the most reliable way to prevent the infectious disease yersiniosis. If you want to be on the safe side, you should avoid raw meat such as tartare or minced meat and don’t eat raw eggs or unpasteurized milk. Washing your hands regularly and avoiding close physical contact with pets also helps preventively.


Those affected should not eat raw meat if they contract yersiniosis. Special attention should be paid to the origin of the food before consumption. The ingredients of the food contained in meals should be checked carefully. Even small amounts of raw animal foods can greatly aggravate symptoms.

Therefore, the precautionary measures must be particularly observed. Special care must also be taken when in contact with animals. Any contact with, for example, an animal’s feces or eggs can transmit bacteria from the animal to humans. Contact with free-roaming animals should also be avoided as far as possible.

These can also transmit bacteria to those affected. However, if contact has taken place, immediate disinfection of the hands is absolutely necessary. The hygiene of those affected must be extremely increased and special attention must be paid to every skin contact, otherwise pathogens could be transmitted.

It helps if there are disinfectant soaps and sprays in the home to use. This means that action can be taken immediately after any contact with bacteria. This makes it harder for germs to be transmitted to those affected. Fresh fruit and vegetables must be thoroughly cleaned before consumption.

You can do that yourself

The food supply and the handling of animals must be checked in everyday life. Under no circumstances should raw meat be eaten if you have a disease. Basically, it is advisable to question the origin of the food before consumption. The meals should be checked for their ingredients. Even the smallest amounts of raw animal foods can lead to problems and an increase in health complaints.

Greater care must also be taken when dealing with animals. Bacteria can be transmitted from pets to humans through skin contact, feces or contaminated eggs. Direct skin contact with animals that move in the wild or are kept as farm animals should also be avoided. As soon as touches have taken place, hands must be disinfected afterwards. Overall, the hygiene measures taken so far should be checked and checked for the transferability of pathogens.

In everyday life, it is helpful to keep disinfecting soaps or sprays in different places in the household. Sufficient cleaning can be carried out at any time immediately after contact with an animal substance. Overall, this leads to a reduced transmissibility of germs. Fresh fruit or vegetables should always be cleaned before consumption. Thorough cleaning is also necessary before processing the products.