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Hib Disease

What is Hib disease? 
Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) is a disease caused by bacteria. Hib disease can cause a person to have a blood infection, meningitis (swelling of the lining that protects the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia, ear infection, sinus infection and infections in other parts of the body. 
Who gets Hib disease? 
Hib disease can occur in persons of any age, but is more common in the elderly, infants who have not been fully vaccinated against Hib disease and persons with weakened immune systems. 
How is Hib disease spread? 
The Hib bacteria lives in the nose and throat and is sprayed into the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks. People nearby can then breathe in the virus. 
What are the symptoms of Hib disease? 
Hib disease usually causes fever, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and possibly stiff neck. Because the bacteria can affect different parts of the body, persons may have different symptoms. 
How soon do symptoms appear? 
It is unknown how soon symptoms will appear after a person is exposed to the bacteria, but may be as short as 2 to 4 days. 
How long can an infected person spread Hib disease? 
An infected person can spread Hib disease for as long as the bacteria are present in the nose and throat. Persons can no longer pass the infection to others after they have been on appropriate antibiotics for 24 to 48 hours. 
Can a person get Hib disease again? 
Children who had Hib disease when younger than 24 months may be at risk for getting Hib disease again. 
What is the treatment for Hib disease? 
Hib disease is treated with antibiotics and supportive therapy. 
What can be done to prevent the spread of Hib disease? 
There is a vaccine to prevent Hib disease. Before the Hib vaccine was developed, Hib disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children. Due to widespread vaccination in children, very few cases are reported each year. Most children should have a total of 3 to 4 doses of Hib vaccine given at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months of age. This is especially important for those children attending day care. Close contacts of a person infected with Hib disease should talk with their healthcare provider immediately. 
Boston Public Health Commission
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