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What is Haemophilus influenza type b (HIB) disease?

Until recently, HIB was one of the most important causes of bacterial infection in young children. HIB may cause a variety of diseases such as meningitis (inflammation of the coverings of the spinal column and brain), blood stream infections, pneumonia, arthritis and infections of other parts of the body. Due to widespread use of HIB vaccine in children, very few cases of HIB are reported each year in Oregon.

Who gets HIB disease?

HIB disease is most common in children three months to three years of age.

How is HIB disease spread?

HIB disease may be transmitted through contact with mucus or droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person.

What are the symptoms of HIB disease?

Symptoms may include fever, lethargy, vomiting and a stiff neck. Other symptoms depend upon the part of the body affected.

How soon do symptoms appear?

The incubation period for HIB disease is usually less than 10 days.

When and for how long is a person able to spread HIB disease?

Most people can get over this illness without any kind of treatment. However, a few people may be sick enough to be hospitalized and may need extra fluids.

Does past infection with HIB disease make a person immune?

No. Children who have had HIB disease are at risk of recurrence.

What is the treatment for HIB disease?

Antibiotics such as ampicillin or chloramphenicol are generally used to treat serious infections. Rifampin is used to treat people who may be carrying the germ.

Who should be especially careful?

HIB disease manifests itself in a variety of ways, most commonly meningitis. When HIB meningitis occurs, a certain proportion of those who recover may suffer long-lasting neurologic problems. In some instances, cases may be fatal.

What can be done to prevent the spread of HIB disease?

There are currently several HIB conjugate vaccines licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in children as early as two months of age. Immunization authorities recommend that all children be immunized with an approved HIB vaccine beginning at two months of age or as soon as possible thereafter. Recommendations for scheduling of subsequent doses vary depending on the manufacturer. Therefore, it is important to consult with your physician.
Adapted from: New York State Department of Health
Issued by: The Oregon Health Services
Date: December, 1998
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