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The Norway Institute of Public Health reports investigating an outbreak of gastrointestinal bacteria, Yersinia enterocolitica O:9. To date, 18 people from several counties have been diagnosed with the infection.

Image/Jennifer Oosthuizen-CDC
Image/Jennifer Oosthuizen-CDC

Patients are between 13 and 60 years old and 60 percent of them are women. They are residents from Troms, Oslo, Akershus, Trøndelag, Vestfold, Rogaland, Nordland, Hordaland and Møre og Romsdal, and are tested in May and early June. Bacteria with similar DNA profiles have been detected in all 18 individuals.

Health and Food Safety officials are are trying to determine if there is a common source of infection. Interviews are conducted with the patients, and samples from the homes are taken to find the source of infection, if possible.

“Investigations can be complicated and take time, and in many cases you will not be able to find the source of infection or to clarify if there is a common source”, says Solveig Jore Senior Adviser.

Yersiniosis is due to infection with the bacterium  Yersinia enterocolitica . The most common symptoms are diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain, usually of 1-3 weeks duration. The reservoir for the bacterium is primarily pig. Dog and cat can also be carriers of the bacterium.

Yersinia bacteria mainly contaminate food, usually via infected pork products, contaminated vegetables or salads, and the use of non-disinfected drinking water.

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Every year, between 40 and 80 cases are reported to the Public Health Institute of Yersiniosis. Most cases are acquired domestically (70-75 percent of reported cases).