Morphology: A small Gram-negative coccobacillus; a facultative anaerobe (can grow with or without oxygen); a member of the Enterobacteriaceae family of bacteria.
Habitat: Lives in the intestinal tract of humans, pigs, cattle, horses, rodents, dogs and cats, birds and cold-blooded animals. It is excreted by wild deer, rodents, and cold-blooded animals and ends up in the environmental waters.
Disease or illness: Diarrhea (often bloody), abdominal pain, especially in young children. The infection mimics appendicitis in older children and adults. Yersinia infections can be followed by chronic inflammatory diseases like srthritis because the immune system is triggered and over reacts.
Who is at risk: Occurs most often in young children. Higher risk in people who eat undercooked pork products, or drink raw milk or contaminated water.
Avoidance techniques: Make sure meat, especially pork, is fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer whenever possible. Wash hands before and after handling raw pork. Drink only pasteurized milk and treated water. Wash hands after animal contact. Dispose of dog and cat feces in a sanitary manner.