Rite Aid is keenly aware of how illness and disease can affect one's wellness. That's why we are with you to help you and your family prevent diseases like Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Hib is a bacterial illness that can lead to a potentially fatal brain infection in young children. It may also cause other maladies like: meningitis (inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and spinal column), infections of the blood, pneumonia, infectious arthritis and infections in other body parts.
How does Hib spread?
Haemophilus influenzae disease, including Hib, is the result of infection with the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae. There are six types of Haemophilus influenzae bacteria identified (a through f) and other non-identifiable forms called nontypeable. The most recognizable is Hib.
Hib is transmitted from person-to-person by direct contact or with respiratory droplets, like those from sneezing or coughing. Usually the bacteria remain in the throat and nose and are harmless. Sometimes the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and spread, resulting in serious infection. Hib is typically spread by individuals who have the bacteria in their noses and throats, but who are not ill themselves (asymptomatic). The incubation period (time between exposure and initial symptoms) of Hib is unknown, but could be as short as a few days.
What are the symptoms of Hib?
Hib manifests itself differently depending on which part of the body is affected. The most common severe types of Haemophilus influenzae disease are:
- Pneumonia (infection of the lungs):
- Symptoms usually include: fever (older people may have lower than normal body temperature), cough, shortness of breath, chills, sweating, chest pain that comes and goes with breathing, headache, muscle pain and excessive tiredness
- Bacteremia (infection of the bloodstream):
- Symptoms may include: fever, chills, excessive tiredness, belly pain, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, shortness of breath, and confusion
- Meningitis (infection of the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord)
- Symptoms may include sudden onset of: fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and confusion
How is Hib diagnosed and treated?
- Hib is typically diagnosed via laboratory tests that examine samples of potentially infected bodily fluids, most often blood or spinal fluids.
- Hib is usually treated with a ten-day regimen of antibiotics.
- Most invasive cases of Hib disease require hospitalization
What is the Hib vaccine?
A vaccine is available that can help to prevent disease caused by Hib, but is not effective with other strains of the Haemophilus influenzae bacteria.
In the U.S., the vaccine is usually administered to infants starting at two months and is recommended for all children under five years of age. In cases where persons are fully vaccinated, but at a heightened risk for Hib disease, additional doses may be recommended. Older children, adolescents, and adults who are not immunized for Hib, but have certain medical conditions, should also get the Hib vaccine.
The Hib vaccine helps to prevent meningitis (an infection of the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (infection of the lungs), epiglottitis (a severe infection of the throat), and other serious infections caused by the Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria. It can be safely combined with other vaccines to make combination vaccines, so individuals can receive protection from Hib, plus other diseases, from a single shot.