Organism, Causative Agent, or Etiologic Agent
Invasive Hib disease is caused by the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, type b. Other types of H. influenzae may also cause disease, but type b usually causes the most severe disease. Type b is the only type that is reportable in Texas and is the only type that is vaccine preventable.
Direct contact with respiratory droplets from a carrier or case patient.
The most common and severe manifestation of Hib disease is meningitis (inflammation and swelling in the coverings of the brain and spinal cord). Symptoms of meningitis include fever, weakness, vomiting, and a stiff neck. Hib can also cause infection of the lungs, blood, joints, bones, throat, and covering of the heart. Symptoms depend on the part of the body affected.
Hib can be prevented by giving the Haemophilus influenzae vaccine to kids 2-18 months of age, maintaining respiratory isolation for patients, and applying good hand-washing technique.
School Exclusion Policy
Children with bacterial meningitis, like that caused by Haemophilus influenzae, should be kept out of school or childcare until they have written permission from a healthcare provider and until they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever suppressing medications. Rules for exclusion of sick children from school and childcare are outlined in the Texas Administrative Code, specifically Rule 97.7 for schools and Rule 746.3603 for childcare.
Recent Texas Trends
Invasive disease caused by H. influenzae type b is rare in Texas. There is an average of 8 cases reported each year. Most cases occur in older adults with other underlying conditions that make them susceptible to H. influenzae.