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Save your Child from Hib Disease

About Dr Hina Ayesha

Bacterial meningitis is a serious life threatening illness and Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib) is a significant cause of childhood meningitis. It is a major cause of Pneumonia in children besides causing other potentially fatal illness like epiglottitis.

Hib is estimated to cause at least 3 million cases of serious disease and 400,000 to 700,000 deaths annually world wide in young children. Disease is specially prevalent in infants and children of 4-18 months of age. 1

In Pakistan, Meningitis is responsible for 5,000 deaths in infancy and almost twice as many handicapped children ever year. 2.

Those surviving from meningitis may suffer serious long-term sequel. 11% develop hearing loss, 15% have language disorders or delayed development. 11% have I/Q of < 70, 3-7% have long-term motor problems like weakness of half of the body, difficulty in walking due to weakness of leg muscles, weakness of brain centres and incoordination etc. About 2-8% have visual impairment. These sequel occur despite the use of appropriate antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance may
complicate the picture, which is on an alarming increase in developing countries like Pakistan.

" Prevention is better than cure ".

Hib disease is a preventable disease now. Conjugate Hib vaccines are safe and effective. 6. Use of Hib vaccine as a routine childhood immunisation has resulted in a significant decline in Hib disease in Western Europe, USA, Canada and New Zealand. Developing countries should therefore urge to prevent the disease by Hib vaccine as the prevalence of
disease is 5-50% more in developing countries 7.

The importance of Hib disease has led WHO consider Hib vaccine as the eighth childhood immunisation to be included in EPI programme 1.

Hib vaccine is costly but cost is much less than the cost of treatment of acute cases and resultant chronically handicapped children. Hib vaccine can be incorporated in routine immunisation schedule of childhood.

" Protect your children against Hib disease – Vaccinate your children with Hib conjugate vaccines ".


References

1- WHO Position Paper . Wkly Epidermal Rec. 1998:73:64-68.
2- Zulfiqar Bhutta, Burden of Haemophilus Influenzae and Streptococcal Pneumonae infections during Childhood in Pakistan JCPSP Sept.2000.
3- Sell, S.H. Paediatric Infec Dis. 1983; 2: 90-93. Long term Sequel of bacterial meningitis in children.
4- Sell, S.H. Haemophilus Influenzae type b meningitis ; manifestations and long term sequel.
5- Mc Intyre P, Jepson R, LeedevS,etal. The outcome of Childhood Haemophilus Influenaze meningitis. A population based study. Medical Journal of Australia 1993;159:766-72.
6- Jones IG, Tyrell H, Hill A et al. Randomised controlled trial of combined diphtheria, tetanus, whole cell pertussis vaccine administered in same syringe and separately with Haemophilus Influenzae type b vaccine at two, three and four months of age. Vaccine 1998;16(1):109-11.
7- Shaprio ED, Ward JI. The epidemiology and prevention of disease caused by Haemophilus Influenzae type b. Epidemol Reviews 199;13:112-143.

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