Thursday, August 1, 2019

Keep Hib Germs Away: Vaccination Can Prevent Serious Childhood Illness

Editor's Note: This video about Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is part of a monthly Texas Medical Association series highlighting infectious diseases that childhood and adult vaccinations can prevent. posts a video about a different disease each month. Some of the diseases featured include: FluMeaslesPneumococcal diseaseHuman papillomavirus (HPV)Chickenpox and shinglesPertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis ARubella (also known as German measles), RotavirusPolioMumpsTetanusHepatitis B, and Meningococcal B, Diphtheria, and more.

TMA designed the series to inform people of the facts about these diseases and to help them understand the benefits of vaccinations to prevent illness. Visit the TMA website to see news releases and more information about these diseases, as well as physicians' efforts to raise immunization awareness.

In the video above, Austin pediatrician and Texas Medical Association member Elizabeth Knapp, MD, talks about Haemophilus influenzae type b (known as Hib), the complications it can cause, how its contracted and the recommended vaccines people can get to protect themselves from the disease.

Bacteria are everywhere, and can be harmful if they enter certain parts of the human body. Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) bacteria, which are typically found in the nose and throat area, can pose a serious health threat if they travel to the blood stream. Hib spreads from person to person through exposure to mucus and saliva, such as sneezing and coughing. Patients who contract this bacteria can experience fever, chills, chest pain, nausea and aches, among many other symptoms. Hib germs can cause a number of illnesses, including meningitis (an infection of the brain and spinal cord), swelling in the throat, and pneumonia (a lung infection). It can also cause infections of the blood (bacteremia), joints (infectious arthritis), bones, covering of the heart (pericardium), and even death. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 20,000 children got Hib disease each year before the vaccine was widely used; one in 20 died from it. The introduction of a vaccine in the 1980s nearly eliminated Hib disease, cutting cases by 99%, the CDC reports.

Because infants and children younger than 5 years old are most susceptible to contracting Hib, the CDC recommends two types of vaccine, with four doses: 2, 4, and sometimes at 6 months, and again at 12 to 15 months. Older children and adults usually do not need a Hib vaccine, except for those who have certain medical conditions who are unvaccinated and people who receive a bone marrow transplant. Talk with your doctor about the options available to avoid this disease.

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