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Haemophilus Influenzae B : Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About haemophilus influenzae B

Haemophilus influenzae type B is a bacterium, responsible for serious, invasive diseases which mostly affect children less than 5 years old. However the advent of HIB conjugate vaccine in the 1990s has significantly reduced the incidence of diseases caused by the bacterium.

Haemophilus influenzae b: Incidence, age and sex

Diseases caused by haemophilus influenzae B most commonly affect children less than 5 years of age. Infants are especially at risk for such illness. However it may affect an individual of any age. Old aged and unvaccinated individuals are highly susceptible to the illness caused by haemophilus influenzae B.

Signs and symptoms of haemophilus influenzae B: Diagnosis

Haemophilus influenzae B may afflict several organ systems of the body. Pneumonia and meningitis are two major and most common illness caused by this bacterium. Pneumonia affects the parenchymal tissue of the lungs whereas meningitis involves the lining of the brain. Following are some other diseases which may also be encountered:

  • Septic Arthritis
  • Cellulitis
  • Otitis media
  • Epiglottitis
  • Pericarditis
  • Endocarditis
  • Osteomyelitis

The symptom profile depends upon the site of affliction by the haemophilus influenzae virus. Pneumonia is characterized by high fever and cough with rusty sputum. Meningitis manifests as fever, vomiting and stiff neck. Investigative analysis of sputum, spinal fluid or blood may be done to establish the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention of haemophilus influenzae B

Haemophilus influenzae B generally colonizes in nose and throat of individuals and thus transmitted by direct contact with respiratory droplets. The bacteria may invade into the bloodstream resulting in severe infections. Immuno-compromised individuals like AIDS patients, individuals on chemotherapy, transplant patients are at higher risk of getting infected with haemophilus influenzae B. Infants and elderly population are also highly susceptible.

Timely vaccination with HIB vaccine significantly helps in preventing infections caused by haemophilus influenzae b. The vaccine is given intramuscularly and constitutes 3 doses and a booster at 12-18 months of age. The first dose is given at around 6-8weeks of age. The vaccine though expensive, is highly effective.

Haemophilus influenzae B: Complications

Infections caused by haemophilus influenzae B may lead to permanent brain damage in occasional individuals who suffer from meningitis.

Haemophilus influenzae B: Treatment

The treatment for haemophilus influenzae B includes a sustained course of broad spectrum antibiotics like Cefotaxime and Ceftriaxone. Antibiotics can be given orally or even intravenously, depending upon the condition of the patient. Prophylactive medication like Rifampicin may be prescribed in high risk or unvaccinated individuals. Severely affected individuals may require good intensive care.