A gastrointestinal illness in humans caused by Listeria. Illness caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes, may be either mild or severe. Milder cases are characterized by a sudden onset of fever, severe headache, vomiting, and other influenza-type symptoms. Severe cases can result in meningitis, chronic illness, and death. Listeriosis may appear mild in healthy adults and more severe in fetuses, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. Women infected with Listeria during pregnancy may transmit the infection to the fetus, possibly leading to spontaneous abortions or babies born with visual, mental, or other problems. Outbreak data show that the incubation period ranges from 3 to 70 days.
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