Incubation periods are one of the many facts that we are expected to learn in medical school. However, I wonder how often they are used in diagnosing an infection because I do not think patients have the best memory of when their symptoms start.
Patients may disregard earlier symptoms which are usually milder. Also, the incubation periods of several organisms are similar. Furthermore, invasion of of an infectious agent does not usually cause a symptom. Thus, it is difficult to even determine the incubation period of the infectious agent.
My question is how often do you rely on the incubation period and what do you do to overcome these challenges?