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Hemophilus Infections

Overview :

H. influenzae is a common organism worldwide; it has been found in the nasal secretions of as many as 90% of healthy individuals in the general population. Hemophilus infections are characterized by acute inflammation with a discharge (exudate). They may affect almost any organ system, but are most common in the respiratory tract. The organism can be transmitted by person-to-person contact, or by contact with nasal discharges and other body fluids. Hemophilus infections in the United States are most likely to spread in the late winter or early spring.

The primary factor influencing the rate of infection is age; children between the ages of six months and four years are most vulnerable to H. influenzae. In previous years, about 50% of children would acquire a hemophilus infection before reaching one year of age; almost all children would develop one before age three. These figures are declining, however, as a result of the increasing use of hemophilus vaccines for children.

Adults are also susceptible to hemophilus diseases. H. influenzae pneumonia is a common nosocomial infection (illnesses contracted in hospitals). The rate of hemophilus infections in the adult population has increased over the past 40 years. The reasons for this change are unclear, but some researchers speculate that the overuse of antibiotics has led to the development of drug-resistant strains of H. influenzae. The risk factors for hemophilus infections among adults include:

  • smoking
  • alcoholism
  • chronic lung disease
  • old age
  • living in a city or institutional housing with a large group of people
  • poor nutrition and hygiene
  • hIV infection, or other immune system disorder

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