Purpose: We describe certain clinical, epidemiologic, and host-susceptibility features of Yersinia enterocolitica infection in the context of a patient with underlying risk factors.
Patients and methods: A 10-year-old black girl with sickle cell disease receiving chelation therapy for iron overload resulting from chronic transfusion therapy was admitted with acute abdominal pain and fever.
Results: Upon hospital admission, differential diagnoses included enterocolitis, appendicitis, and vasoocclusive crisis. On the 6th hospital day, the patient's stool culture became positive for Y. enterocolitica. Household exposure to raw pork intestines (chitterlings) was the presumed source of the infection. Deferoxamine therapy was withheld, and antibiotic therapy was administered with subsequent clinical improvement.
Conclusions: Y. enterocolitica infection should be considered as a cause of abdominal pain mimicking appendicitis in patients with underlying risk factors (including certain sickle cell patients). History of exposure to raw or undercooked pork products and appropriate cultures should be obtained. Deferoxamine therapy should be withheld in iron-overloaded patients presenting with such symptoms because deferoxamine and iron overload constitute independent risk factors for Yersinia infection. Such patients should be advised to avoid potential exposures to this pathogen.