Effective vaccines against yersiniosis have yet to be developed. An effective plague vaccine would naturally be valuable. Yersinia gastroenteritis as such is rarely a problem for patients, but the postinfection complications may cause a great amount of pain and inconvenience. A vaccine against yersiniosis might be useful for individuals prone to reactive arthritis. Relatively little is known about the role of immune responses in protection against Yersinia infections. Some studies have indicated that cell-mediated reactions are associated with long-term immunity to plague. This is compatible with the fact that Y. pestis is a pathogen capable of intracellular growth. That cell-mediated immune responses are elicited during yersiniosis is quite clear, but their role in protection against infection remains unclear. Most of the evidence supports the role of humoral immunity in protection against yersiniosis.

To obtain protection against the many serotypes of pathogenic Yersinia species the putative vaccine should be directed against a determinant found in all of them. Such a determinant could be one of the YOPs or invasin. However, more information regarding the pathogenesis of Yersinia infections is needed if effective vaccines are to be developed.

See also: Bacteria, immunity to; Bacterial cell walls; Molecular mimicry.

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