What is Hib disease?
Hib is a bacteria that causes different types of infections, especially in children under the age of 5. It can also cause infection in adolescents and adults who have weak immune systems. Depending on the type of infection, the disease can be mild, severe or even life-threatening.
Mild illness caused by Hib includes:
- Sinus infections
- Ear infections
- Eye infections
Severe illness (invasive disease) occurs when the bacteria get into the blood stream. Examples of these severe infections are:
- Epiglottitis (rare infection in the back of the throat that can block the airway)
- Infection of the blood, joints and bones
Invasive Hib disease is a reportable disease in Ontario.
What are the symptoms of Hib disease?
Because Hib disease causes so many different types of infections, the symptoms aren’t always the same. Fever and chills, a feeling of being unwell and fatigue are general signs of infection.
Meningitis is the most common type of Hib disease. It can cause fever and headache, confusion, stiff neck and pain from bright lights.
You should see a health care provider if the illness seems to be causing more serious symptoms.
How is Hib disease spread?
The bacteria are found in the nose and throat and are spread through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The infection can also be spread by having direct contact with fluids from the nose and throat of an infected person.
How is Hib disease treated?
Treatment of Hib infections is done in the hospital where you can be given supportive care, antibiotics and fluids.
A person is no longer contagious after receiving at least 24 hours of antibiotics.
How is Hib disease prevented?
As part of their routine schedule, children get a vaccine that protects them against Hib disease starting at the age of 2 months of age. It is also given to adolescents and adults who have health conditions that put them at higher risk of Hib infection.
Simple preventative measures can reduce the spread of infection.