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  • Updated 04.02.2024
  • Released 02.28.2005
  • Expires For CME 04.02.2027

Haemophilus influenzae meningitis



Haemophilus influenzae is a significant public health concern in many parts of the world, inducing up to 3 million cases of severe disease every year. H. influenzae type b (Hib) is a leading cause of meningitis and epiglottitis in children and pneumonia in adults in vaccine-deprived areas of the globe. In this article, the author reviews key features of epidemiology, pathophysiology, and clinical manifestations, with a focus on making timely diagnoses and preventing mortality and morbidity. Newer methods for identification and typing of the organism are discussed. With the increase in antibiotic resistance to Hib, vaccination is a powerful public health measure to rapidly reduce incidence globally. The most current vaccination guidelines and treatment recommendations are discussed in detail.

Historical note and terminology

Haemophilus influenzae was first isolated by Pfeiffer during the 1889 influenza pandemic (73), and it was believed to be the causative agent of influenza. It was called the “influenza bacillus.” Eventually, the error of this diagnostic association was recognized. The organism was given the genus name Haemophilus, meaning “blood-loving,” and the species name influenzae in recognition of the historical association.

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