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A genus of bacteria commonly found in soil, of which the commonest is Listeria monocytogenes. They can cause food poisoning (listeriosis). Listeria spp. are especially found in unwashed vegetables and some soft cheeses; they resist cold and the presence of salt and can multiply in a refrigerator. Symptoms of listeriosis are flu-like, with high fever and dizziness. Pregnant women, babies and the elderly are especially at risk. L. monocytogenes causes systemic infection; minimum infective dose not known; onset within days, duration weeks