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 may include:
- Stiff neck
Hib disease can also cause infection of the:
- Covering of the heart.
Symptoms depend on the part of the body affected.
The time between exposure and the onset of symptoms is usually less than 10 days.
Hib disease is most often diagnosed by culture of the cerebrospinal fluid. In some cases, it may be diagnosed by blood culture.
Unvaccinated children under age five are at risk for Hib disease. The disease occurs most often in children ages three months to two years.
As children grow older, they are less likely to develop Hib disease. Very few cases occur in people over age five.
Meningitis and other serious infections caused by the disease can lead to brain damage or death.
Immediate treatment with antibiotics should be started to prevent the Hib infection from causing brain damage or death.
Hib is now a rare disease because of highly effective vaccines given to infants (beginning at the age of two months) and the high vaccination coverage of infants and children under the age of two years.
Hib disease occurs mainly in under-vaccinated children and in infants too young to have completed the first series of shots.