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HIB Disease

This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about HIB Disease.

Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) is a disease caused by bacteria.

The basics

What is Hib disease? 

Hib disease can cause:

  • blood infection
  • meningitis
  • pneumonia
  • ear infection
  • sinus infection
  • infections in other parts of the body 

Who gets Hib disease? 

Hib disease can occur in people of any age, but is more common in the elderly, unvaccinated infants, and people with weakened immune systems. 

How is Hib disease spread? 

The Hib disease bacteria lives in the nose and throat and sprays into the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks. People nearby can then breathe in the virus.

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. Individuals can no longer pass the infection to others after they have been on the 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 are the symptoms of Hib disease? 

Hib disease usually causes:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  •  possibly stiff neck

Because the bacteria can affect different parts of the body, individuals may have different symptoms. 

How soon do symptoms appear? 

It is unknown how soon symptoms will appear after exposure to the bacteria, but may be as short as 2 to 4 days. 


How can you prevent the spread of Hib disease? 

There is a vaccine to prevent Hib disease. Before the vaccine, Hib disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children. Widespread vaccination in children has lowered the number of reported cases annually. 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.


What is the treatment for Hib disease? 

Health care providers treat Hib disease with antibiotics and supportive therapy. 

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