The genus Yersinia belongs to the Enterobacteriaceae family and is composed of 12 species, three of which are pathogenic for humans: Y. enterocolitica, Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis.
Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis are widespread among various animal species and in the environment. They are transmitted to humans by the oral route and cause intestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever. They are most often responsible for sporadic cases in
Y. pestis is the causative agent of plague. This zoonotic disease is transmitted from animal to humans by flea bites. Bubonic plague (the most common clinical form of plague), is characterized by the development of a painful lymph node (bubo) in the area draining the bite site. Pneumonic plague results from human-to-human contamination through aerosol transmission and is characterized by an acute and fulminant pneumopathy. Y. pestis is one of nature’s most pathogenic bacteria for humans. Despite considerable progress in plague prevention and cure, this infection has made a new comeback. Because of the steady increase in reported cases during the past 15 years and the reappearance of the disease in areas otherwise declared plague-free for several decades, the plague has been included in the list of re-emerging diseases.
The main activities of the Yersinia Research Unit include the analysis of horizontal gene transfer; bacterial evolution; molecular bases of pathogenicity; immune, physiological and genetic host responses to infection; and antibiotic resistance in pathogenic Yersinia species. Our Unit also has public health activities ( French Reference Center , National Surveillance Network, and WHO Collaborating Center).