Haemophilus Influenzae Infections | Symptoms & Causes

What causes Haemophilus influenzae?

The H. influenzae bacteria live in the upper respiratory tract and are usually transmitted by close contact with an infected individual. Droplets in the air from a sneeze, cough or close conversation can be inhaled and may also cause infection.

What are the symptoms of Haemophilus influenzae?

Symptoms vary depending on the specific infection:

  • For otitis media (middle ear infection)
    • unusual irritability
    • difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
    • tugging or pulling at one or both ears
    • fever
    • fluid draining from ear(s)
    • loss of balance
    • hearing difficulties
    • ear pain
    • nausea and vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • decreased appetite
    • congestion
  • For conjunctivitis 
    • redness
    • swelling
    • drainage from one eye or both eyes
    • burning of the eyes
    • sensitivity to light
  • For sinusitis in younger children
    • runny nose that lasts greater than seven to 10 days
    • thick green or yellow discharge
    • nighttime cough
    • occasional daytime cough
    • swelling around the eyes
  • For sinusitis in older children
    • runny nose or cold symptoms that last greater than seven to 10 days
    • complaints of drip in his/her throat from his/her nose
    • headaches
    • facial discomfort
    • bad breath
    • cough
    • fever
    • sore throat
    • swelling around the eye (tends to be worse in the morning)
  • For epiglottitis
    • upper respiratory infection, such as a cold
    • quick onset of a very sore throat
    • fever
    • muffled voice
    • no cough
    • drooling
    • unable to talk
    • child sits leaning forward
    • child keeps his or her mouth open
  • For meningitis in infants
    • irritability
    • sleeping all the time
    • refusing a bottle
    • cries when picked up or being held
    • inconsolable crying
    • bulging fontanelle (or soft spot)
    • behavior changes
  • For meningitis in children older than 1 year
    • neck and/or back pain
    • headache
    • nausea and vomiting
    • neck stiffness

Can you prevent Haemophilus influenzae?

Immunization with the Hib vaccine can help prevent Haemophilus influenzae type b disease and meningitis. The Hib vaccine is recommended for infants at 2, 4, 6 and 15 to 18 months.