Diseases and incubation periods

Diseases and Incubation Periods

Disease & incubation period Transmission Signs and Symptoms Infectious period and treatment
Chickenpox /
Chickenpox is transmitted from person to person by directly touching the blisters, saliva or mucus of an infected person. The virus can also be transmitted through the air by coughing and sneezing.
A person can also get chickenpox from someone who has a shingles infection.
Flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, body aches, and headache. These symptoms typically start a day or two before a rash appears.  Red spots appear on the face and chest, eventually spreading over the entire body. Blisters weep, become sores, form crusts and heal.

A person with chickenpox is contagious beginning 1 to 2 days before rash onset until all the chickenpox lesions have crusted (scabbed). 10-14 days


  • Acyclovir in adults
  • Calamine lotion/poxclin mouse
  • A cool bath with added baking soda, uncooked oatmeal may help relieve some of the itching.
  • Paracetamol for pain and fever.

Do not use Brufen!

German measles /
Rubella is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected individuals. 
Rubella can also be transmitted by breathing in droplets that are sprayed into the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks.

Signs and symptoms generally appear between two and three weeks after exposure to the virus. They usually last about one to five days and may include:

  • Mild fever of 38.9 C or lower.
  • Headache, stuffy or runny nose and inflamed, red eyes.
  • Enlarged, tender lymph nodes at the base of the skull, the back of the neck and behind the ears
  • A fine, pink rash that begins on the face and quickly spreads to the trunk and then the arms and legs, before disappearing in the same sequence.
  • Aching joints, especially in young women.
Rubella may be transmitted from seven days before to seven days after the rash appears.

  • Vitamin A supplement daily
  • Rest
  • Paracetamol / Brufen for pain and fever
Measles The virus is transmitted by direct contact with infectious droplets or by airborne spread when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. Measles symptoms appear 7 to 14 days after contact with the virus and typically include high fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and inflamed eyes. Measles rash appears 3 to 5 days after the first symptoms.
Tiny white spots with bluish-white centres on a red background found inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek — also called Koplik’s spots.  A skin rash made up of large, flat blotches that often flow into one another

Infected people can spread measles to others 4 days before through to 4 days after the rash appears.The measles virus can remain in the air (and still be able to cause disease) for up to 2 hours after an infected person has left a room.


  • Vitamin A supplement daily
  • Rest
  • Paracetamol / Brufen for pain and fever
Mumps The mumps virus replicates in the upper respiratory tract and is transmitted person to person through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets of a person infected with mumps.

Symptoms of mumps usually appear within 2 weeks of exposure.

Discomfort in the salivary glands (in the front of the neck) or the parotid glands (immediately in front of the ears). Either of these glands may become swollen and tender.

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Pain and tenderness of the testicles
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite

The infectious period is considered from 2 days before to 5 days after parotitis onset, although virus has been isolated from saliva as early as 7 days prior to and up to 9 days after parotitis onset.


  • Use a warm or cold compress to ease the pain of swollen glands
  • Rest
  • Paracetamol / Brufen for pain and fever
Pertussis (whooping cough) Pertussis is transmitted mainly by airborne droplets from the respiratory mucous membranes of infected individuals. In general, whooping cough starts off like a common cold. Symptoms can include runny nose, low-grade fever, tiredness, and a mild or occasional cough. It progresses to prolonged, severe coughing fits, followed by gasping for breath. Vomiting after coughing fits.  Exhaustion after coughing fits. The classic “whoop” symptom is a high-pitched wheezing sound made when a person gasps for breath after a severe coughing attack. This symptom may be absent in adults with whooping cough.

A person with whooping cough can pass it to others as soon as they get cold-like symptoms. They can also pass it up to 3 weeks after they start coughing.


  • Antibiotics such as azithromycin, clarithromycin and erythromycin.
Diphtheria Diphtheria bacteria spread from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets, like from coughing or sneezing. People can also get sick from touching infected open sores or ulcers

A thick grey-white coating at the back of your throat.

  • A high temperature (fever) of 38C or above
  • Feeling sick
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Swollen glands in your neck
  • Difficulty breathing and swallowing

Untreated patients who are infected with the diphtheria germ may be contagious for up to four weeks. If the patient is treated appropriately, the contagious period can be limited to less than four days.


  • Antibiotics containing either penicillin or erythromycin.