Health officials warn that a little-known disease infects thousands of Brits each year.
Yersinia enterocolitica—common in the 1980s and 1990s—can cause a week of diarrhoea. Most cases are minor, but it can kill.
Uncooked pork spreads it.
England has 8,023 lab-confirmed food-borne disease cases between 1975 and 2020, prompting some experts to believe incidents were declining.
However, UKHSA researchers believe 7,500 Brits are getting sick each year.
Yersinia enterocolitica can cause diarrhea.
Foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks and improved slaughterhouse hygiene caused the fall.
Scientists reviewed England’s yersinia case data from 1975 to 2020 to understand the UK’s genuine situation.
‘Our examination of available data represents excellent evidence that yersinia infection is substantially under-reported in England’, they wrote in EuroSurveillance.
They stated that’real changes to the epidemiology of this virus have gone overlooked’.
Bacterial infections include diarrhoea, stomach pain, headaches, and fever.
Joint, back, muscle, dizziness, and stool blood have also been reported.
In the UK, yersinia testing is not suggested unless doctors suspect appendicitis, mesenteric lymphadenitis, terminal ileitis, or reactive arthritis.
‘There is a compelling rationale for a structured strategy to yersinia surveillance in England and other nations,’ the researchers wrote.
That includes epidemiological questionnaire follow-up and routine testing.
England has 8,023 instances between 1975 and 2020.
The specialists detected 8,023 Yersinia cases in England between 1975 and 2020, most of which were caused by Yersinia enterocolitica, not the related Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.
They noted that cases increased sharply in the 1980s, peaking in 1988 and 1989 before dropping.
During the 2000s, reported yersinia cases may have decreased ‘due to the impact of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks on pork consumption’. Researchers did not explain why infections peaked in the 1980s.
Slaughterhouse hygiene may have reduced overall infections.
Clinical Pathology Accreditation, which evaluates lab standards and processes, was introduced in the early 1990s, which coincided with the fall in yersinia notifications from English labs.
‘The present and previously recorded incidence of laboratory-confirmed yersinia infection in England has been considerably driven by varied patterns of testing,’ researchers added.