Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) is a bacterial infection that can cause a number of serious illnesses such as pneumonia or meningitis, especially in young children.

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Contents

Key Information

What should I do?

If you think you have this condition, you should call an ambulance or go to the hospital immediately.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor might suspect and diagnose haemophilus influenzae type B (HiB) based on your symptoms and examination findings. A sample of fluid from the infected organ might be required to confirm the diagnosis. Most commonly, this will involve a swab from your throat.

What is the treatment?

HiB is treated with antibiotics. This could be taken through your mouth or a vein, depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Non-prescription painkillers might be recommended if you have a high temperature and pain.

Introduction

Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) is a bacterial infection that can cause a number of serious illnesses such as pneumonia or meningitis, especially in young children. Hib infections are preventable by vaccination.

Hib can cause any of the following infections:

  • meningitis - infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord
  • pneumonia - infection of the lungs
  • pericarditis - infection of the lining surrounding the heart
  • epiglottitis - infection of the epiglottis (flap that covers the entrance to your windpipe)
  • septic arthritis - infection of the joints
  • cellulitis - infection of the skin and underlying tissues

Some of these infections can lead to blood poisoning, which can be fatal.

Many of the children who get Hib infections become very ill and need hospital care.

Hib vaccination

Vaccinating children against Hib has been very successful in cutting rates of Hib disease.

The Hib vaccine is offered to babies as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.

They have three separate doses of Hib vaccine at two, three and four months of age as part of the combined 5-in-1 vaccination.

A booster dose is also offered at 12-13 months as part of the combined Hib/MenC booster, to provide longer-term protection.

Content supplied by NHS Choices