Hib disease is caused by infection with Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria.
Infection can cause
These conditions can develop quickly, and meningitis and epiglottitis can sometimes be fatal (other germs can also cause these diseases). There are other types of H. influenzae bacteria (apart from type b), but these are not associated with outbreaks). Before the introduction of the Hib vaccine, Hib disease was the leading cause of meningitis in children under five years old. Hib infections are now quite rare.
Symptoms depend on which part of the body is infected.
Hib bacteria can live harmlessly in the throat of healthy people. The bacteria are spread through contact with droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person, in household-like settings. A person does not have to have symptoms to spread the bacteria.
People most at risk of infection include:
Four doses of Hib vaccine are recommended in NSW for all infants at two, four, six and eighteen months of age.
A doctor can diagnose Hib disease from symptoms, an examination, and doing some tests. Tests may include taking samples to test for the bacteria in the infected part of the body (eg, blood or cerebrospinal fluid).
Treatment involves antibiotics, medicine to control the fever and pain (such as paracetamol), and fluids to prevent dehydration.
Hospitals and laboratories must confidentially notify cases of Hib disease to the local public health unit. Public health unit staff will work with the doctor, the patient or the patient's family to identify close contacts at risk of infection and arrange for those at risk to receive information about the disease, and if necessary, special antibiotics.
For further information please call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055