Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Yersinia pseudotuberculosis

Synonym(s): Y. pseudotuberculosis

Contributor(s): Lesa Thompson, Susan Dawson, Anna Meredith




  • Family: Enterobacteriaceae.
  • Genus:Yersinia.
  • Species:pseudotuberculosis.


  • Yersin: Swiss-born French bacteriologist.
  • Gr: pseudes - false; L: tuberculum - tuber; hump/swelling.

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Clinical Effects



  • Reservoir hosts: wild rodents, lagomorphs (particularly wild hares in Europe) and birds.
  • Also persists in the environment.


  • Feco-oral: ingestion of infected feces or urine.
  • Domestic rabbits infected by fecal or urinary contamination of food.
  • Direct infection via contaminated dust or soil may also be possible.

Pathological effects

  • Rare in domestic pet rabbits, but moderately common in wild counterparts.
  • Internal abscesses and/or septicemia (latter more likely in rabbits).
  • Symptomatic infection withY. pseudotuberculosismay occur in immunosuppressed rabbits.
  • May be acute or chronic.
  • Septicemic cases may die within 48 h.
  • Recovery from natural infection in healthy rabbits confers solid immunity.
  • Many infections are subclinical. Clinical disease is aided by conditions that impair bowel integrity.
  • Incubation period: a few days to several months.
  • Organism multiplies in intestine. Necrotic foci form in intestinal wall, abdominal lymph nodes, liver and spleen. Hematogenous spread to spleen results in septicemia.
  • This results in depression, anorexia and weight loss   Weight loss  , and occasionally diarrhea. Icterus is rare in the rabbit.
  • Gross lesions: multifocal necrosis in liver and spleen. Nodules up to several cm in diameter; caseous center in larger nodules.
  • Histopathology of hepatic and splenic lesions: foci of severe necrosis surrounded by polymorphs containing bacilli, central liquefaction. Surrounding hepatic or splenic parenchyma infiltrated by lymphocytes and plasma cells. May also see foci at the ileocecal ampulla and other intestinal lymphoid aggregates.

Other Host Effects

  • Many normal rabbits may carry the bacterium in their gastrointestinal tract.


Control via animal

Zoonotic risk.

  • Treatment is frequently not recommended due to zoonotic risk. In colony situations culling and restocking is often indicated.

Control via chemotherapies

Control via environment

  • Exclude wild rabbits, rodents and birds from food stores and housing areas.
  • Wash fresh food before feeding.
  • Good husbandry to optimize animal immunity.


  • Avirulent live vaccine protects against homologous challenge; not available commercially.

Other countermeasures

  • Good hygiene.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Lai C H, Lin J N, Chen Y H et al (2014) The first imported human case of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis serotype O1 septicemia presents with acute appendicitis-like syndrome in Taiwan. J Formosan Med 113 (9), 656-9 PubMed.
  • Wobeser G, Campbell G D, Dallaire A et al (2009) Tularemia, plague, versiniosis and Tyzzer's disease in wild rodents and lagomorphs in Canada: A review. Can Vet J 50 (12), 1251-6 PubMed.

Other sources of information