Skip to main content

Occurrence of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis in small wild rodents


Rodents are a potential source of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis. In order to study this, 190 rodents were captured and sampled on seven pig farms (n=110), five chicken farms (n=55) and six other locations (n=25) in Sweden. Pigs from three of the pig farms were also sampled (n=60). Pathogenic Y. enterocolitica was detected by TaqMan PCR in about 5% of rodent samples and 18% of pig samples. Only rodents caught on pig farms tested positive for the pathogen. Y. enterocolitica bioserotype 4/O:3 strains isolated from the rodent and pig samples were compared by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and revealed a high degree of similarity, which was confirmed by random amplified polymorphic DNA. Y. pseudotuberculosis was only detected in one rodent sample. Thus, rodents may be vectors for the transmission of pathogenic Y. enterocolitica to pigs, acting as carriers rather than a reservoir, and should therefore remain an important issue in hygiene control measures on farms.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr A. Backhans, Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Diagnostics and Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Box 7054, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden. (Email:
Hide All
1.Anon. The community summary report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents, antimicrobial resistance and foodborne outbreaks in the European Union in 2007. EFSA Journal 2009; 223: 3312.
2.Bottone EJ. Yersinia enterocolitica: the charisma continues. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 1997; 10: 257276.
3.Fredriksson-Ahomaa M, Stolle A, Korkeala H. Molecular epidemiology of Yersinia enterocolitica infections. FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology 2006; 47: 315329.
4.Jourdan AD, Johnson SC, Wesley IV. Development of a fluorogenic 5′ nuclease PCR assay for detection of the ail gene of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2000; 66: 37503755.
5.Thisted Lambertz S, et al. A combined culture and PCR method for detection of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica in food. International Journal of Food Microbiology 2000; 57: 6373.
6.Thisted Lambertz S, et al. Real-time PCR method for detection of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica in food. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2008; 74: 60606067.
7.Thisted Lambertz S, Nilsson C, Hallanvuo S. TaqMan-based real-time PCR method for detection of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis in food. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2008; 74: 64656469.
8.Ostroff SM, et al. Sources of sporadic Yersinia enterocolitica infections in Norway: a prospective case-control study. Epidemiology and Infection 1994; 112: 133141.
9.Tauxe RV, et al. Yersinia enterocolitica infections and pork: the missing link. Lancet 1987; 329: 11291132.
10.Bhaduri S, Wesley IV, Bush EJ. Prevalence of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica strains in pigs in the United States. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2005; 71: 71177121.
11.Fredriksson-Ahomaa M, Stolle A, Stephan R. Prevalence of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica in pigs slaughtered at a Swiss abattoir. International Journal of Food Microbiology 2007; 119: 207212.
12.Lindblad M, et al. Microbiological baseline study of swine carcasses at Swedish slaughterhouses. Journal of Food Protection 2007; 70: 17901797.
13.Hurvell B, Glatthard V, Thal E. Isolation of Yersinia enterocolitica from swine at an abattoir in Sweden. Contributions to Microbiology and Immunology 1979; 5: 243248.
14.Wauters G. Carriage of Yersinia enterocolitica serotype 3 by pigs as a source of human infection. Contributions to Microbiology and Immunology 1979; 5: 249252.
15.Aldova E, Cerny J, Chmela J. Findings of yersinia in rats and sewer rats. Zentralblatt fur Bakteriologie Mikrobiologie und Hygiene – Abt 1 Orig A 1977; 239: 208212.
16.Kaneko K, Hashimoto N. Occurrence of Yersinia enterocolitica in wild animals. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 1981; 41: 635638.
17.Kapperud G. Yersinia enterocolitica in small rodents from Norway, Sweden and Finland. Acta Pathologica et Microbiologica Scandinavica – Section B, Microbiology and Immunology 1975; 83 B: 335342.
18.Hallanvuo S, Foodborne Yersinia. Identification and molecular epidemiology of isolates from human infections (dissertation). Helsinki, Finland: University of Helsinki, 2009, 132 pp.
19.Fukushima H, Gomyoda M. Intestinal carriage of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis by wild birds and mammals in Japan. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 1991; 57: 11521155.
20.Jalava K, et al. An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness and erythema nodosum from grated carrots contaminated with Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Journal of Infectious Diseases 2006; 194: 12091216.
21.Rimhanen-Finne R, et al. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis causing a large outbreak associated with carrots in Finland, 2006. Epidemiology and Infection 2008; 4: 16.
22.Nuorti JP, et al. A widespread outbreak of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis O:3 infection from iceberg lettuce. Journal of Infectious Diseases 2004; 189: 766774.
23.Laukkanen R, et al. Transmission of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis in the pork production chain from farm to slaughterhouse. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2008; 74: 54445450.
24.Fredriksson-Ahomaa M, Korkeala H. Low occurrence of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica in clinical, food, and environmental samples: a methodological problem. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 2003; 16: 220229.
25.Asplund K, Johansson T, Siitonen A. Evaluation of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of genomic restriction fragments in the discrimination of Yersinia enterocolitica O:3. Epidemiology and Infection 1998; 121: 579586.
26.Fredriksson-Ahomaa M, Autio T, Korkeala H. Efficient subtyping of Yersinia enterocolitica bioserotype 4/O:3 with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Letters in Applied Microbiology 1999; 29: 308312.
27.Thisted Lambertz S, Danielsson-Tham ML. Identification and characterization of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica isolates by PCR and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2005; 71: 36743681.
28.Blixt Y, et al. Interlaboratory random amplified polymorphic DNA typing of Yersinia enterocolitica and Y. enterocolitica-like bacteria. International Journal of Food Microbiology 2003; 83: 1526.
29.Wauters G, Kandolo K, Janssens M. Revised biogrouping scheme of Yersinia enterocolitica. Contributions to Microbiology and Immunology 1987; 9: 1421.
30.Bhaduri S, et al. Simple assay of calcium dependency for virulent plasmid-bearing clones of Yersinia enterocolitica. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 1990; 28: 798800.
31.PulseNet. One-day (24–28 h) standardized laboratory protocol for molecular subtyping of Escherischia coli O157:H7, non-typhoidal Salmonalla serotypes, and Shigella sonnei by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). In: PulseNet PFGE Manual, 2004.
32.Ribot EM, et al. Standardization of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis protocols for the subtyping of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Shigella for PulseNet. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease 2006; 3: 5967.
33.Hunter SB, et al. Establishment of a universal size standard strain for use with the PulseNet standardized pulsed-field gel electrophoresis protocols: converting the national databases to the new size standard. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2005; 43: 10451050.
34.Pokorna V, Aldova E. Finding of Yersinia enterocolitica in Rattus rattus. Journal of Hygiene, Epidemiology, Microbiology and Immunology 1977; 21: 104105.
35.Iinuma Y, et al. Isolation of Yersinia enterocolitica serovar O8 from free-living small rodents in Japan. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 1992; 30: 240242.
36.Kaneko KI, et al. Occurrence of Yersinia enterocolitica in house rats. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 1978; 36: 314318.
37.Akande O A study on wild rat behaviour and control on a pig farm (Master's thesis). Uppsala, Sweden: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 2008, 53 pp.
38.Hayashidani H, et al. (eds). Molecular genetic typing of Yersinia enterocolitica serovar O:8 isolated in Japan. In: The Genus Yersinia. Secaucus, NJ, USA: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003, pp. 363365.
39.Hayashidani H, et al. Potential sources of sporadic human infection with Yersinia enterocolitica serovar O:8 in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 1995; 33: 12531257.
40.Niskanen T, Fredriksson-Ahomaa M, Korkeala H. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis with limited genetic diversity is a common finding in tonsils of fattening pigs. Journal of Food Protection 2002; 65: 540545.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 18 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 121 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.