Haemophilus species

Haemophilus species is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins ABX Guide.

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  • Small aerobic Gram-negative coccobacillus found mainly in the respiratory tract.
    • Fastidious organism, factors X (hemin, haemophilius from Latin "blood loving") and V (nicotinamide-adenine-dinucleotide) required for growth on chocolate agar, the preferred media
  • Haemophilus influenzae: two categories causing human colonization or infection
    • Typeable strains: six types generally recognized (Types a-f).
      • Encapsulated, type B strain (Hib, with capsular antiphagocytosis and anticomplement virulence factors) historically accounts for most invasive infections and bacteremic pneumonia. Now rarely encountered due to childhood Hib vaccine success.
      • H. influenzae serotype a (Hia) increasingly noted as a cause of severe, invasive infection. Emergence due to intrinsic capsular virulence factors of Hia was well as pressure from the success of Hib immunization.
        • Predominantly noted in U.S. and Canada. Incidence in Europe, low.
        • In one series, accounted for ~30% of invasive H. influenzae infection in Manitoba.
      • Type f strain also increasingly recognized as a cause of severe infection, though less common than Hia.
    • Non-typeable strains: less invasive and cause more otitis media, epiglottitis, acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis (AECB), sinusitis and nonbacteremic pneumonia.
      • Increasingly recognized as a cause of URTIs, pneumonia and occasional bacteremia in all age groups.
      • High colonization rates in children, up to 70%.
      • Recent data suggest that non-typeable strains (along with Hia) are accounting for greater percentages of invasive Haemophilus disease[4].
  • Other species: all are part of normal flora of human oral and pharyngeal cavities but may also be causes of bacterial respiratory tract infections and endocarditis, similar to H. influenzae.
  • H. ducreyi, agent of chancroid, see the separate module.

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Last updated: April 5, 2019