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N Z Med J. 1995 Jul 14;108(1003):269-71.

Yersinia enterocolitica is a common cause of gastroenteritis in Auckland.

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Department of Veterinary Pathology and Public Health, Massey University, Palmerston North.



Infections with Yersinia enterocolitica are a significant cause of gastroenteritis in many countries, However, little information is available on the incidence of human disease in New Zealand. A study was performed between January 1988 and December 1993 to investigate aspects of the epidemiology of yersiniosis in the Auckland region including prevalence, age and sex distribution, strain definition and seasonal occurrence.


Culture of 231 128 faecal samples for enteric pathogens was performed at Diagnostic Laboratory, a community laboratory in Auckland, between January 1988 and December 1993. All yersinia isolates recovered were sent to the department of veterinary pathology and public health, Massey University for further typing. Relevant data were entered into a database and reviewed at the end of the study period.


1469 of the samples, representing 941 cases, were positive for strains of yersinia during the study period, a crude isolation rate of 0.6%. A single strain from each of the cases was further typed and yersinia enterocolitica was found to constitute the majority of the isolates (918), making it the third most common enteric pathogen isolated after campylobacter and salmonella. Of the strains isolated, 98% were recognised human pathogens, with biotype 4, serotype 0:3 being the most frequently recovered, as it is worldwide. No clear seasonal pattern emerged although most isolations were made in the autumn-winter period. The age distribution showed two peaks, 0-4 (17.6%) and 25-29 year olds (13%). Infections in males outnumbered those in females (56:44).


The results of this study show that Y enterocolitica is an important enteric pathogen in the Auckland region, particularly in children and young adults and it has identified a need for a case-control study to assess the relevant risk factors for acquisition of Y enterocolitica infections in New Zealand.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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