Incubation Period

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incubation period

[‚iŋ·kyə′bā·shən ‚pir·ē·əd]
The period of time required for the development of symptoms of a disease after infection, or of altered reactivity after exposure to an allergen.
(vertebrate zoology)
The brooding period required to bring an egg to hatching.

Incubation Period


(or incubation), the time interval from the moment of infection to the appearance of the clinical symptoms of a disease.

For each infectious disease, the incubation period has a characteristic length, although the length may vary depending on the number of microbes that entered the body, their pathogenicity, the physical condition of the body itself (previous traumas and illnesses, malnutrition, vitamin deficiency), and the site of entry of the infection. Vaccination, seroprophylaxis, and chemotherapy prolong the incubation period.

Table 1. Length of incubation periods of some infectious diseases
 Length of incubation period (in days)
Most frequent “average”MinimumMaximum
Rabies . . . . . . .40123-6 months (rarely up to 1 year)
Botulism . . . . . .12-24 hours1-2 hours1 (rarely more)
Brucellosis . . . . .14720-30
Typhoid fever . . .143–421
Chicken pox . . . .11–141021
Influenza . . . . . .2a few hours3
Dysentery . . . . .32 hours7
Diphtheria . . . . .527–10
Whooping cough .7–9214–15
Measles . . . . . .8–10717 and 21 (with injection of serum)
Malaria . . . . . . .10–15631 (in tertian malaria, sometimes 7–11 months)
Epidemic parotitis (mumps) . . . . . .11921
Poliomyelitis . . . . .7–14335
Scarlet fever . . .3–6a few hours7–12
Tetanus . . . . . . .7–14140 (sometimes upon removal of splinters, a few years)
Typhus . . . . . . .12–14620
Tularemia . . . . . . .8121
Epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis2–3a few hours7
Foot-and-mouth disease . . . . .426

In some infectious diseases (such as measles and diphtheria) causative agents are discharged into the environment during the incubation period; this leads to the infection of other persons. The length of the incubation period is important in discovering the source of infection and sometimes also for establishing a diagnosis.


References in periodicals archive ?
Cough latency time was also prolonged but did not differ significantly from placebo.
L0; Initial latency time of down from platform in the learning day
2: Comparison of the effects of PSD502 and dapoxetine on intravaginal ejaculatory latency time (IELT) in patients with PE in phase 3 clinical trials.
Central administration of saline significantly increased vertical and horizontal movement without altering latency time to explore, grooming, defecation and urination behavior when compared to normal.
This indicates there may be discontinuity in latency time for those emotions between infancy and early childhood.
42) LeDoux's work finds that subcortical circuits for fear in animals are shorter than cortical circuits, resulting in shorter latency time.
However, caution needs to be exercised in the interpretation because of factors such as latency time and migration.
One big advantage of the communication using short-range communication, with a range of 300 to 500 meters, is the very low latency time.
Animals having latency time greater than 15 s on hot plate during pre-testing were rejected (latency time).
This Phase III, double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study will measure the intravaginal ejaculatory latency time (IELT) for subjects aged 18 and older.
Pretreatment ejaculatory latency time was measured during a 3-week baseline period during which time patients were asked to have sexual intercourse 3 times per week.