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Hib disease, formally known as Haemophilus influenzae type b disease, is an illness that can cause a potentially fatal brain infection in young children. It is spread through contact with discharges or droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person. Until recently, the disease was a cause of serious, often deadly, infections in children under age five. Thanks to the widespread use of effective vaccines, very few cases are now diagnosed.

What Is Hib?

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease is a bacterial illness that can cause a potentially fatal brain infection in young children.
 
Thanks to the widespread use of effective vaccines against Hib, very few cases are now diagnosed. In fact, cases of the disease in the United States have declined by 96 percent over the past 10 years; however, getting children vaccinated and guaranteeing that they get the complete series of shots is still a challenge, especially among children with poor access to healthcare.
 
This disease is spread through contact with discharges or droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person. Immunization with Hib vaccine starting at the age of two months can prevent the disease. The disease can be treated with antibiotics.
  

What Causes It?

Hib disease is caused by Haemophilus influenzae serotype b, a bacterium.
 

Where Does Hib Reside in the Body?

The Hib bacterium is widespread in humans. Along with other bacteria, it usually lives in the throat and nose without causing illness. In some cases, though, the bacterium breaks through the body's defenses and causes disease.
 

Transmission

Hib disease is spread through contact with discharges or droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person. Hib disease can spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or speaking closely with an infected person. A person does not have to have symptoms to spread the bacterium.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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