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Yersinia (Stool)

Does this test have other names?

Yersiniosis test, Yersinia stool culture

What is this test?

This test checks for an infection from the Yersinia bacteria. This infection is also called yersiniosis. Most cases of infection in the U.S. are from a type of bacteria called Yersinia enterocolitica. This illness is most common in children, and it tends to strike more often during the winter. Eating or handling undercooked pork – especially pork chitterlings, or intestines – raises the risk for this infection because pigs often carry this type of bacteria.

Two other types of the bacteria cause disease in humans: Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, which causes abdominal pain similar to appendicitis, and Yersinia pestis, which causes the disease known as the plague. A stool culture may be used to diagnose Y. enterocolitica and, in some cases, Y. pseudotuberculosis

Why do I need this test?

You might have this test to check if you are infected with Y. enterocolitica. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea, which often contains mucus or blood and can last for weeks or months

  • Abdominal, or belly, pain

In adults, other symptoms may include:

  • Erythema nodosum, or bumpy nodules under the skin

  • Uveitis, an eye inflammation

  • Arthritis

Symptoms of Y. pseudotuberculosis include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Fever

What other tests might I have along with this test?

The standard method of diagnosing this illness uses a stool sample, which may be tested for other bacteria, too. 

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

If Yersinia bacteria grow in the culture, the infection is causing your symptoms.

How is this test done?

This test requires a stool sample. Your doctor will instruct you how to collect a sample in a disposable specimen container with a lid. If you're unable to produce a stool sample at the time of the test, a health care provider may collect stool with a swab inserted into your rectum.

In some cases, a health care provider may try to grow bacteria from a fluid sample taken from the abdominal lymph nodes, throat, or abdomen. A blood sample can also be used. 

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks when done as a stool test.

What might affect my test results?

Contaminating the stool sample with urine or toilet paper could affect the results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test.