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Incubation period (chickenpox)

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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The incubation period of a disease refers to the time between contact with a carrier of the disease and development of symptoms. It does not refer to the time to infectivity, which in many instances is much shorter.

The incubation periods of infectious diseases is dealt with under the specific diseases. However, for ease of reference and for exam revision, the following summary details the diseases in the order of vaccination against them:

  • diphtheria, 1 to 7 days
  • tetanus, 24 hours to 24 days
  • pertussis, 7 to 14 days
  • polio, 7 to 14 days
  • measles, 8 to 14 days, with encephalitis 7 to 10 days after symptoms develop
  • mumps, 16 to 21 days
  • rubella, 14 to 21 days
  • chicken pox, 14 to 21 days, with a cerebellar encephalitis 3 to 4 days after symptoms develop
  • fifth disease, 6 to 14 days

The ranges represent the extremes of presentation.


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The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

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