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. 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. This is because pigs often carry this type of bacteria.

Two other types of the bacteria cause disease in humans. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis causes belly (abdominal) pain similar to appendicitis. Yersinia pestis causes the disease known as the plague. A stool culture may be used to diagnose Y. enterocolitica and sometimes Y. pseudotuberculosis. 

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test to see if you are infected with Y. enterocolitica. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea. This often has mucus or blood in it. It can last for weeks or months.

  • Abdominal pain

In adults, other symptoms may include:

  • Bumpy nodules under the skin (erythema nodosum)

  • Eye inflammation (uveitis)

  • Arthritis

Symptoms of Y. pseudotuberculosis include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Fever

What other tests might I have along with this test?

The standard way to diagnose this illness is with a stool sample. The sample may be tested for other bacteria. 

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

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

How is this test done?

This test is done with a stool sample. Your healthcare provider will tell you how to collect a sample in a disposable specimen container with a lid. If you can't make a stool sample at the time of the test, a healthcare provider may collect stool with a swab put into your rectum.

In some cases, a 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. But be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.