Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib)

Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib) is a serious illness caused by a bacteria that most often affects children under 5 years old. The most common types of serious Hib disease are meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (lung infection), bacteremia (blood stream infection) and epiglottitis (infection and swelling of the throat). Hib disease can cause lifelong disability and can be deadly.

Hib spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Usually, the Hib bacteria stay in a person’s nose and throat and do not cause illness. But if the bacteria spread into the lungs or blood, the person will become very sick.

Even with treatment, as many as 1 in 20 children with Hib meningitis will die. As many as 1 in 5 children who survive Hib meningitis will have brain damage or become deaf. Most children with invasive Hib disease need care in the hospital.

Symptoms

Hib causes different symptoms depending on which part of the body is affected.

  • Fever, headache, confusion, stiff neck, and pain when looking into bright lights (meningitis)
  • Poor eating and drinking, and vomiting (meningitis in babies)
  • Fever and chills, headache, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain (pneumonia)
  • Fever and chills, excessive tiredness, and confusion (bacteremia)
  • Trouble breathing (epiglottitis)

Prevention

The Hib vaccine is the best prevention against this dangerous disease.

For the most protection against Hib, your children need to receive all three to four (depending on vaccine brand) recommended doses of the Hib vaccine. These doses should be given to children at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and between 12 and 15 months. To see if your children are up-to-date on their vaccines, look at the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule and talk to your healthcare provider.