Incubation period

Incubation period

Incubation period is the time elapsed between exposure to a pathogenic organism, a chemical or radiation, and when symptoms and signs are first apparent. The period may be as short as minutes to as long as thirty years in the case of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.

While Latent or Latency period may be synonymous, a distinction is sometimes made between Incubation period, the period between infection and clinical onset of the disease, and Latent period, the time from infection to infectiousness. Which is shorter depends on the disease.

A person may be a carrier of a disease, such as Streptococcus in the throat, without exhibiting any symptoms. Depending on the disease, the person may or may not be contagious during the incubation period.

During clinical latency, an infection is subclinical. With respect to viral infections, in clinical latency the virus is actively replicating.[1] This is in contrast to viral latency, a form of dormancy in which the virus does not replicate.

Clinical latency occurs in:

Extrinsic incubation period : In a vector, it is the time between entrance of an organism into the vector and the time when that vector can transmit the infection. For Eg.:Once ingested by a mosquito, malaria parasites must undergo development within the mosquito before they are infectious to humans. The time required for development in the mosquito (the extrinsic incubation period) ranges from 10 to 21 days, depending on the parasite species and the temperature. If a mosquito does not survive longer than the extrinsic incubation period, then she will not be able to transmit any malaria parasites.

Examples of incubation periods

Incubation periods vary greatly, and are generally expressed as a range. When possible, it is best to express the mean and the 10th and 90th percentiles, though this information is not always available. The values below are arranged roughly in ascending order by number of days, although in some cases the mean had to be inferred.

For many conditions, incubation periods are longer in adults than they are in children or infants.

Disease Incubation period
Cellulitis caused by Pasteurella multocida less than 1 day [1]
Norovirus 1–2 days [2]
Cholera 1–3 days [3]
Influenza 1–3 days [4],[5]
Scarlet fever 1–4 days [6]
Common cold 1–3 days [7]
Ebola 2–21 days [8]
Rocky Mountain spotted fever 2–14 days [9]
Dengue fever 3–14 days [10]
SARS up to 10 days [11]
Marburg 5–10 days [12]
Roseola 5–15 days [13]
Polio 7–14 days [14]
Pertussis 7–14 days [15]
Measles 9–12 days [16]
Smallpox 7–17 days [17]
Generalized tetanus 7–21 days [18]
Chicken pox 14–16 days [19]
Erythema infectiosum (Fifth Disease) 13–18 days [20]
Mumps 14–18 days [21]
Rubella (German measles) 14–21 days [22]
Infectious mononucleosis 28–42 days [23]
Kuru mean between 10.3 and 13.2 years [24]

See also

  • Quarantine
  • Prodrome
  • Window period, the time between infection and when lab tests can identify the infection. The window period may be longer or shorter than the incubation period.


  1. ^ Sharara AI (1997). "Chronic hepatitis C". South. Med. J. 90 (9): 872–7. PMID 9305294. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • incubation period — incubation period. См. инкубационный период. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • Incubation period — In medicine, the time from the moment of exposure to an infectious agent until signs and symptoms of the disease appear. For example, the incubation period of chickenpox is 14 16 days. In biology, the incubation period is the time needed for any… …   Medical dictionary

  • incubation period — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms incubation period : singular incubation period plural incubation periods 1) medical the amount of time that it takes for the signs of an infection to become noticeable 2) biology the amount of time that it… …   English dictionary

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  • incubation period — inkubacinis laikotarpis statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Laikotarpis nuo patogeninių mikroorganizmų patekimo į organizmą iki pirmųjų ligos požymių atsiradimo. Gali trukti nuo kelių valandų iki kelių mėnesių ar net metų (pvz …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • incubation period — incubation (1) the period of time from egg fertilization until hatching, as in a hatchery) …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • incubation period — period of time that is between the infection and the outbreak of the disease s symptoms …   English contemporary dictionary

  • incubation period — noun the period between infection and the appearance of symptoms of the disease (Freq. 3) • Hypernyms: ↑time period, ↑period of time, ↑period …   Useful english dictionary

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