Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib)

About This Disease

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a very serious bacterial infection in young children. Haemophilus influenzae bacteria can affect many different organ systems of the body, causing meningitis (swelling of the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia, and blood, bone, skin, ear, throat or joint infections.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of Hib disease vary but often include fever, vomiting, fatigue, and a stiff neck. Other symptoms depend upon which part of the body is affected. The symptoms usually start 2 to 4 days after exposure to the bacteria.

Transmission

Hib spreads from person to person in droplets from coughing or sneezing. Those at greatest risk of getting Hib disease are unimmunized children, 6 months to 5 years old, who live in crowded housing or who attend day-care facilities. Older children and adults are generally not at risk for Hib infection.

If left untreated, the person is contagious for as long as the bacteria remain in the nose and throat. Proper treatment with antibiotics can reduce the time one is contagious.

Treatment

A doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat Hib infections. Hospitalization is often required to treat severe Hib infections.

Risk in Hawaii

Prevention

The best way to prevent children from getting Hib disease is to get them vaccinated on time. The Hib vaccine is recommended for all children in Hawaii. Children should receive the Hib vaccine at 2, 4 and 6 months of age, with a booster at 12-15 months.

Additional Resources

Information for Clinicians