Brubaker, Robert R. Department of Microbiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
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A genus of bacteria in the Enterobacteriaceae family. Yersinia bacteria appear as gram-negative rods and share many physiological properties with related Escherichia coli bacteria. Of the approximately 19 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 more than 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; Medical bacteriology; Microbiology
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