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Haemophilus influenzae

Haemophilus influenzae is a reportable disease in Oklahoma.  Haemophilus influenzae is a bacterium that is found in the nose and throat of children and adults.  Some people can carry the bacteria in their bodies but do not become ill.  Haemophilus influenzae serotype B (Hib) is commonly associated with infants and young children and was once the most common cause of bacterial infection in children.  Due to widespread use of Hib vaccine in children, few cases are reported each year.  Non-serotype B infections occur primarily among the elderly and adults with underlying disease.  There are no vaccines available against non-serotype B disease.  Haemophilus influenzae causes a variety of illnesses including meningitis (inflammation of the coverings of the spinal column and brain), bacteremia (infection of the blood), pneumonia (infection of the lungs), and septic arthritis (infection of the joints).

Haemophilus influenzae is spread by contact with mucus or droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person.  Symptoms of invasive Haemophilus influenzae include high fever, irritability, aching, tiredness, intense headache, stiff neck and sometimes nausea and vomiting.  The bacteria can infect different parts of the body, so other symptoms may occur.  An infected person can spread Hib disease for as long as the bacteria are present in the nose and throat.

A variety of Hib vaccines are currently available.  All children should be vaccinated against Hib beginning at approximately 2 months of age.  Contact your physician or local health department for further information about vaccination.

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