Brubaker, Robert R. Department of Microbiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
Last reviewed:June 2020
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A genus of bacteria (some being pathogenic to humans) in the Yersiniaceae family. Members of the bacterial genus Yersinia (family Yersiniaceae, order Enterobacterales) appear as Gram-negative rods (that is, they do not retain the crystal violet stain used in Gram staining) and share many physiological properties with related Escherichia coli bacteria. Of the approximately 18–20 species of Yersinia, Y. pestis, Y. enterocolitica, and Y. pseudotuberculosis are etiological agents of human disease. Yersinia pestis (see illustration) causes flea-borne bubonic plague. Also known as the Black Death, this extraordinarily acute process is believed to have killed possibly 200 million people during human history. Enteropathogenic Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. enterocolitica typically cause mild chronic enteric infections. The remaining species either promote primary infection of fish (for example, Y. ruckeri) or exist as secondary invaders or inhabitants of natural environments (for example, Y. aldovae, Y. bercovieri, Y. frederiksenii, Y. intermedia, Y. kristensenii, Y. mollaretii, and Y. rohdei). See also: Bacteria; Escherichia; Food microbiology; Food poisoning; Foodborne disease; Medical bacteriology; Microbiology; Plague; Staining
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