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Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B)

Hib is a bacterium (bug) that can cause a variety of serious diseases including meningitis, blood poisoning, pneumonia and epiglottitis – a serious infection of part of the throat. Over half the cases of serious, or invasive, Hib disease are meningitis; whilst most children are successfully treated with antibiotics, around 1 in 35 will die. Hib also causes less serious problems such as ear infections.

Though the disease is an infection that can be caught, the Hib bug also lives up the nose of many people without doing any harm at all.

Before vaccination was introduced, around 1,000 children under 5 became ill with invasive Hib disease every year in England and Wales. Of these over 900 made a complete recovery, but 35 died, and 70 became permanently disabled.

Around 1 in 700 children caught one of the potentially serious forms of ‘invasive’ Hib infection at some time before the age of 5 years. The disease is rare in children over the age of 5 years.

Picture courtesy NHS Choices