Polio Home > Polio Incubation Period

The period between polio transmission and the start of polio symptoms is called the polio incubation period. This period can be as short as 4 days or as long as 35 days. During the polio incubation period, infected people are contagious.

 

An Overview of the Polio Incubation Period

When a person becomes infected with the poliovirus, the virus begins to multiply within the cells that line the back of the throat, nose, and intestines. The poliovirus can also spread to the:
 
  • Lymph glands
  • Brain
  • Spinal cord
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Lungs
  • Skin
  • Muscles.
 
After 7 to 14 days (on average), polio symptoms can begin. This period between polio transmission and the start of polio symptoms is called the "polio incubation period." The polio incubation period can be as short as 4 days or as long as 35 days.
 

Is a Person Contagious During the Polio Incubation Period?

A person is contagious during the polio incubation period. A person who is infected with polio begins to be contagious about 7-10 days before symptoms begin. After symptoms of polio begin, people continue to be highly contagious for another 7-10 days. It is important to note that people can continue to be contagious for another two to five weeks, well after polio signs and symptoms have faded.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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