Infectiology deals with the treatment and research of viral and bacterial infections as well as fungal infections. From this medical field, the incubation period is known. The term incubation is derived from the Latin term "incubare" and means "hatching".
For an infection, the incubation period is the time between contact with a pathogen and the onset of the disease. This period of time amounts to hours to several years or decades, depending on the particular illness and the constitution of the patient. In the incubation period, the pathogens multiply in the body and spread in the organism. The term virulence is used to describe the extent of the ability to make an organism ill.
From the incubation period, the latency of toxins is to be distinguished. In principle, latency and incubation time are the same phase. The latency, however, occurs after exposure to pollutants and corresponds to the clinically symptom-free interval between the pollutant contact and the first symptoms. Both pathogens and pollutants are called pollutants. Non-microbiological noxae have a latency period. For microbiological noxae, the incubation period applies.
At the beginning of an infection is the penetration of the pathogens. This immigration of pathogens usually goes unnoticed. The pathogens can enter the organism in different ways. The aerogenic infection is also known as droplet infection and allows the pathogens to migrate with the air. In the alimentary infection or smear infection enter the pathogens with food in the body. In contact infection or parenteral infection, they enter the organism without passage of the gastrointestinal tract. Somewhat more familiar is the sexual contact infection via sexual intercourse. The transmissive infection occurs via natural vehicles such as mosquitoes, ticks or flies and a diaplazentaren infection is in a pathogen transmission between the mother and an unborn child. Possible routes of infection include the skin, mucous membranes, intestines and wounds such as bites, stings and cuts.
With the immigration of the pathogens, the incubation period begins. The pathogens multiply locally at the entry port. You are not in the bloodstream yet. Only by entering the bloodstream, they reach their target organs. This second step of the infection counts as the penetration of the pathogens with the incubation period.
Depending on the temperance and the virulence of pathogens, it takes hours, weeks or years from the entry of the pathogens until the first symptoms can be observed. With the first symptoms the medicine speaks of the disease outbreak and thus the end of the incubation period.
During the symptom-free phase, the immune system registers the antigens and produces anti-antigen antibodies. The incubation period is thus a phase of the highest activity for the immune system and does not necessarily lead to the outbreak of the infection. The patient's organism may develop immunity to the disease with the incubation period, or may already have immunity from a previous infection or vaccination. In the case of immunity, the disease does not follow the incubation period. The immune system of the patient makes the pathogens harmless.
The incubation period plays a role for all microbiological noxae and infections, affecting viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases. Some infectious diseases are limited to specific organ systems. Others concern several organ systems.
For example, poliovirus has a relatively short incubation period. The pathogens enter through the gastrointestinal tract and multiply there in the lymphatic tissue. After two weeks, nonspecific symptoms such as fever occur. The incubation period ends with the onset of paralysis.
Rabies, unlike the poliovirus, is transmitted through bites. The location of the bite determines the incubation period. The pathogens multiply at the bite site and migrate from there along peripheral nerves into the brain. The further you travel along the nerve pathways, the longer the incubation period lasts. When the onset of the disease occurs after the incubation period, the immune system has failed to produce immunity. Nonetheless, immunity may be present at the next infection with the particular pathogen.
Antibodies develop from B lymphocytes after exposure to an antigen. This form of immune response is called a humoral immune response and thus delimited from the innate immune response.
Patients with immunodeficiency do not develop sufficient antibodies during the incubation period. Immunodeficiencies can occur as part of stress. Also, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and lack of sleep may favor defensive weaknesses.
Disease-related immunodeficiencies are present, for example, in HIV_infections. The same applies to malignant tumors and aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy. Drugs, alcohol and nicotine are also assessed as risk factors for acquired immunodeficiency. In addition, bacterial infections are more prone to people having their spleens removed.
The immune response changes with age physiology. Therefore, the incubation period may be significantly shorter in older people than in younger people.