Medical Definition of Incubation period

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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 particular process of development to take place. For example, the length of time for turtle eggs to hatch is the incubation period.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018