What is HIB?
The Hib virus is very dangerous because it causes many invasive diseases. Parts of the body, such as the spine and brain that do not normally experience infections can become invaded by this disease. There were 20,000 cases per year recorded in the United States before the vaccine was invented. At one time, it was just as prevalent as Polio. Meningitis is only one of the diseases which can develop from a Hib infection.
Meningitis is an infection of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. Hib can attack anyone at any age. The Hib vaccine was introduced in 1988. Before that time, Hib Meningitis was the leading cause of childhood death in those under five years of age. Now that there is a vaccine, incidences have decreased by 99 percent, with only about 1 in 100,000 developing the disease.
How is Meningitis spread?
The disease is spread by infected persons and carriers of the disease. The bacteria are present in the nose and throat and are usually spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Meningitis is still very common in the third world and is very virulent. It is extremely important to be vaccinated against Hib, so as not to develop a secondary Meningitis infection.
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Once infected, the disease progresses very quickly. It is imperative that you receive adequate medical care as soon as possible, as the disease can be fatal.
What are the symptoms of Meningitis?
The incubation period of Meningitis is unknown, but estimated at about one week. Symptoms of the disease are fever, stiffness in the head and neck and lethargy. Changes in mental function and severe headaches can present themselves as well. In infants, Meningitis is very difficult to detect. Infants that are afflicted may appear to be irritable and less active than normal and have a loss of appetite and vomiting. The only way to detect Meningitis in infants is to give them a spinal tap and to test the fluid for the infection.
Meningitis can be spread after symptoms have subsided because the bacteria may still be present in the nose and throat. It is very important to follow through with any and all medical treatments if you contract Meningitis. Children who contract Meningitis at an age of less than 24 months are able to get the disease later in life. However, those who are older than 24 months when they get the disease will most likely enjoy a lifelong immunity to it.
How is Meningitis treated?
Meningitis is treated with antibiotics such as ampicillin or cefotaxime. Patients may be treated with a preventative course of rifampin if they have been exposed to the bacteria.
Who should be vaccinated and who shouldn’t be vaccinated?
Hib vaccinations can’t wait. Most of those infected by the disease before the vaccine was invented were children under the age of two, and most commonly from 6 to 12 months. The elderly are also very susceptible to Meningitis.
Only those who have a known allergy to components of the Hib vaccine should not be vaccinated.
Meningitis immunization in NYC
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Traveling outside of USA and concerned about your health? Travel vaccinations are recommended for many destinations. Find out about the requirements and talk to a physician.
To make an appointment for your Hib vaccines, call our NY travel clinic. Our specialists will advise regarding the proper action to be taken in your case.