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 ?
[(FxLxP).sub.ijk] = interaction of fibre type, fibre inclusion level and incubation periods tested, and;
The experimental design was completely randomized, with a factorial arrangement of 7 x 1 x 2 + 2 (essential oils x concentrations x incubation periods + control + fungicide (additional treatment)), with five replicates, consisting of one Petri dish each.
On analyzing samples of human assay control level 2 and human assay control level 3 with different incubation periods, results obtained are shown in Tables 3 and 4, respectively.
Incubation periods of mosquito-borne viral infections: a systematic review.
Warm temperature lead to early onset of incubation, shorter incubation periods, and greater hatching asynchrony in Tree Swallows Tachycineta bicolor at extremes of their range.
These poisonous substances require no incubation period, and some can cause incapacitation or death within minutes or hours.(4) Examples of deadly toxins used in biological weapons include botulinum toxins and ricin.
A second analysis was conducted with additional incubation periods that were calculated by using the difference in time of onset between the first and second cases within 12 households.
PI= 100 ug g-1 soil: The data on Soil-A and Soil-B at the initial phosphorus level of 100 ug g-1 soil showed that the soil-B desorbed 11.04, 8.02, 2.63 and 0.02 ug g-1 soil phosphate more than the soil-A, after all the incubation periods of one, seven, fifteen and thirty days respectively, except sixty days incubation period , where soil-A desorbed 3.67 ug g-1 soil more than soil-B (Fig-2).
Prof Colling's team discovered the location of three new genes in mice that help determine the incubation periods.
If this is true, those cases that have surfaced so far could be genetically disposed to have the shortest incubation periods.
To examine sensitivity of our results, we also fitted the logistic regression models by using 3 categories for the incubation period. We observed similar results and a reduced risk for death associated with longer incubation periods (online Technical Appendix Table 2).