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Incubation Period


Updated June 10, 2014

Definition: This is the amount of time between exposure to microbes (bacteria or viruses) and developing the signs or symptoms of a disease. The incubation period varies for different microbes and can be as short as a few days or as long as months or years. In the case of viral hepatitis, the incubation period is the time between exposure to one of the viruses that cause hepatitis and developing signs or symptoms of hepatitis.

The average incubation period for the hepatitis viruses is different for each one. Listed below are the average incubation periods in days, along with the range, for each of the five major hepatitis viruses. The range represents the shortest known time and the longest known time for symptoms to develop after exposure to the virus.

After the incubation period is when the signs and symptoms of the disease begin to show (unless the person is asymptomatic and doesn't show any symptoms, which is very common for viral hepatitis).

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