Meningitis is a very serious illness. Meningitis is an infection of the tissues lining the brain and thus has the potential to inflict great harm on the brain itself. Many kinds of germs may cause meningitis but among the most dangerous are bacteria that are responsible for diseases like pneumonia and ear and throat infections. One of the most aggressive of these bacteria is one called Hemophilus Influenza or HI. This bacteria is a leading cause of infection in young children and has been implicated in many kinds of infection including pneumonia, conjunctivitis, ear infections and a very serious form of croup called epiglottititis.
Before the introduction of a vaccine, called HiB, that prevented infection with HI, this germ was responsible for infecting as many as 20,000 children a year, over half of whom developed meningitis. As a result, many children died and those who survived had a high incidence of complications including hearing loss, seizures and impaired learning.
Fortunately all that changed when the HiB vaccine was developed and today, infections with HI, especially meningitis, are rarely seen. That is just one reason why it is very important that infants and young children receive the immunizations currently recommended for them.
HI still exists. Bacteria like HI are always looking for a vulnerable place to do their harm. Don’t let your child be one of them. Follow the directions of your child’s medical provider for the protection she needs!
Olson Huff, MD FAAP