Haemophilus Influenza Type B (Hib) is a bacteria found in the nose and throat spread by coughing and sneezing. It can cause a number of major illnesses, including meningitis, epiglottis, blood poisoning, and pneumonia. All of these illnesses can lead to death if not treated quickly. Hib used to be the most common cause of life-threatening bacterial infection in children under 5 years old. Immunisation has made it rare in New Zealand.

Meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain)

  • Fever, loss of appetite, vomiting.
  • Signs may be vague and non-specific in young infants, or they may have a bulging fontanelle.
  • Drowsiness, headache, sensitivity to bright light, neck stiffness.

Epiglottitis (severe swelling in the throat)

  • Fever, difficulty breathing, noisy breathing, difficulty swallowing and drooling of saliva.
  • A child with epiglottitis may sit with an extended neck and their tongue sticking out to help them breathe.

How is it spread?

Hib is spread in the air by droplets from an infected person breathing or when they sneeze or cough.

Prevention

Immunisation is the best way of preventing Hib.