What is the role of Haemophilus influenza (H influenza) (type b) (Hib) in the development of meningitis?

Updated: Jul 16, 2019
  • Author: Rodrigo Hasbun, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

H influenzae is a small, pleomorphic, gram-negative coccobacillus that is frequently found as part of the normal flora in the upper respiratory tract. The organism can spread from one individual to another in airborne droplets or by direct contact with secretions. Meningitis is the most serious acute manifestation of systemic infection with H influenzae. (See Haemophilus Meningitis.)

In the past, H influenzae was a major cause of meningitis, and the encapsulated type b strain of the organism (Hib) accounted for the majority of cases. Since the introduction of Hib vaccine in the United States in 1990, the overall incidence of H influenzae meningitis has decreased by 35%, with Hib accounting for fewer than 9.4% of H influenzae cases. [5]


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