Haemophilus influenzae type b
Not long ago Hib disease (Haemophilus Influenzae type b) was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children less than 5 years old. As recently as the mid-1980s it struck one child out of every 200 in that age group. Nearly all Hib infections occurred among children younger than 5 years of age, and approximately two-thirds of all cases occurred among children younger than 18 months of age. About 1 in 4 of these children suffered permanent brain damage, and about 1 in 20 died.
Hib disease is spread through the air by coughing, sneezing, and even breathing. If the bacteria stay in a child’s nose and throat, the child will probably not get sick. But if they spread to the lungs or bloodstream, the child can get meningitis (inflammation of the covering of the brain), pneumonia, epiglottitis (inflammation in the throat), arthritis, or other problems. A child who is infected can spread the disease to others for as long as the bacteria remain in the body. Antibiotics can stop spread in 2 to 4 days.