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Complications

Most strains of Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, including Hib, usually live in a person’s nose or throat without causing disease.

Most strains of Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, including Hib, usually live in a person’s nose or throat without causing disease. Severe infections can result when the bacteria invade parts of the body that are normally free from germs, like blood or spinal fluid. This is known as "invasive disease."

Depending on what type of invasive infection the bacteria cause, the complications can be different. For example, if meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord) occurs, a person can suffer from brain damage or hearing loss. Bacteremia (blood infection) can result in loss of limb(s). Many of the infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae bacteria can result in death.

When Haemophilus influenzae bacteria cause a non-invasive infection, like bronchitis or an ear infection, complications are rare and typically not severe. If appropriate, antibiotics will be given to prevent complications. Learn more about using antibiotics for respiratory infections.

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