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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2006 Aug;47(3):315-29.

Molecular epidemiology of Yersinia enterocolitica infections.

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Institute of Hygiene and Technology of Food of Animal Origin, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, Germany.


Yersinia enterocolitica is an important food-borne pathogen that can cause yersiniosis in humans and animals. The epidemiology of Y. enterocolitica infections is complex and remains poorly understood. Most cases of yersiniosis occur sporadically without an apparent source. The main sources of human infection are assumed to be pork and pork products, as pigs are a major reservoir of pathogenic Y. enterocolitica. However, no clear evidence shows that such a transmission route exists. Using PCR, the detection rate of pathogenic Y. enterocolitica in raw pork products is high, which reinforces the assumption that these products are a transmission link between pigs and humans. Several different DNA-based methods have been used to characterize Y. enterocolitica strains. However, the high genetic similarity between strains and the predominating genotypes within the bio- and serotype have limited the benefit of these methods in epidemiological studies. Similar DNA patterns have been obtained among human and pig strains of pathogenic Y. enterocolitica, corroborating the view that pigs are an important source of human yersiniosis. Indistinguishable genotypes have also been found between human strains and dog, cat, sheep and wild rodent strains, indicating that these animals are other possible infection sources for humans.

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