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Pink Eye Incubation Period

Is a Person Contagious During the Pink Eye Incubation Period?

Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious. However, in most cases, they do not appear to be contagious during the incubation period.
Someone who is infected by bacteria that causes pink eye begins to be contagious when signs and/or symptoms are first present and can continue until 24 hours after the antibiotic is started.
For someone with pink eye caused by a virus, the person can be contagious for up to 14 days from the time that symptoms first appear.
Keep in mind that just because you or your child was given an antibiotic, this does not necessarily mean that it is bacterial conjunctivitis. In some cases, healthcare providers will give antibiotics for viral conjunctivitis in order to decrease the chances of secondary infection. These antibiotics will have no effect on healing or the contagiousness of the pink eye.
(Click Pink Eye Prevention for information on what you can do to help prevent transmission.)
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