Thanks to a vaccination, there are few reported cases of invasive H. flu today. Learn more about this infection, including who is most at risk.
The invasive H. flu infection is caused by the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacterium, which is spread through discharge from the throat or nose of an infected person, either by coughing, sneezing, or speaking at close range. Although initially thought to be the cause of influenza, Hib disease is not related to any form of influenza virus.
Invasive H. flu can cause bacterial meningitis, a potentially fatal brain infection, or other serious, often deadly, infections in children. However, with the development and widespread use of effective Hib vaccines, few cases are now diagnosed in the developed world. A person does not have to have symptoms to spread the infection.
Besides meningitis, invasive H. flu infection can cause pneumonia; epiglottitis (severe swelling above the voice box that makes breathing difficult); and infections of the blood, joints, bones, and pericardium (the covering of the heart). In kids, less severe infections can include, but are not limited to, middle ear infection, conjunctivitis, and sinus infection.
Who's at Risk for the Flu
Without immunization, children 5 years of age and younger are at risk, and invasive H. flu occurs most often in children ages 3 months to 2 years. As children grow older, they are less likely to develop the disease -- few cases occur after age 5.
Defensive Measures Against the Flu
The most effective prevention is the invasive H. flu (Hib) vaccine, which should be given to your child at 2 months of age, 4 months of age, 6 months of age (depending on the type of vaccine), and 12 to 15 months of age (be sure to ask which vaccine schedule your child's shots should follow). You also should prevent contact with children known to be infected with invasive H. flu.
If your child is exposed to the infection, he or she can be given rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane), an antibiotic that is active against the invasive H. flu bacterium.
Measles is both highly contagious and can be deadly. Learn about defensive measures to take against this infection on the next page.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.