Haemophilus Influenzae Type B

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What is Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib)

Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib) is an important cause of bacterial meningitis in children younger than 5 years of age. It is a member of the H. influenzae family of bacteria that carry a polysaccharide capsule and can cause other types of illness, like pneumonia, ear infections, epiglottitis (inflammation of tissue at the back of the throat, just above the vocal cords), pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the heart), septic arthritis (inflammation of the joints due to infection), and a bloodstream infections. Hib bacteria was identified as a cause of meningitis in the late 1980s.

Symptoms of Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib)

Symptoms of Hib meningitis include a fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, sleepiness, seizures, irritability, and in some cases a rash. Symptoms of other Hib infections may include difficulty breathing, painful swallowing, abdominal pain, sudden joint pain or swelling, or difficulty moving.

Who is at risk for Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib)

Hib is most common in children less than 5 years of age, although it can infect anyone. Most healthy people carry the Hib bacteria in their nose and throat without any illness. However, those who are immunocompromised, such as those with HIV infection or sickle cell disease, are at an increased risk.

How is Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib) spread?

Hib is spread by direct contact with secretions from the nose and throat of infected people. Commonly, Hib is transmitted by inhalation of the bacteria or by contact with secretions on an infected person’s hands. Hib infections can also result from exposure to day care centers or environments with overcrowding. Hib infection is not spread through food or water.

How is Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib) treated?

Hib is treated with antibiotics. Supportive care such as fluids and fever control may also be needed. Vaccination is the best way to prevent Hib disease. Vaccines are available that protect against Hib infection.


Vaccines are available to protect against Hib infection. It is recommended that all children in the United States receive Hib vaccine. Infants should get a series of three doses of Hib vaccine. A booster dose may also be recommended. The Hib vaccine is safe and effective. It has been extensively tested and has been in use for more than 20 years in the United States. Widespread use of the vaccine has significantly reduced rates of Hib disease.


Complications of Hib infection can include hearing loss, hearing impairment, mental retardation, and other neurologic problems. These long-term problems are more likely if a child is very young.

Prevention of Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib)

The best way to prevent Hib is to get vaccinated. Vaccination of all children is recommended in the United States. Vaccines should be given on schedule according to the recommended schedule. Those who cannot be vaccinated should take precautions such as avoiding contact with people who have Hib infection.

  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Frequently wash your hands
  • Keep distance from people who are sick
  • Regularly clean surfaces