October 13, 2019

"The Flu" vs "H. Flu" (Hint, they are not the same thing)

Electon microcope image of the influenza virus. Image
from Wikipedia.
Prior to 1933, the flu was thought to be caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae and not a virus. Since 1933, we now know that the flu is actually caused by the influenza virus (types A, B, and C). However, there is much confusion among patients and even healthcare professionals who still erroneously consider Haemophilus influenzae and the flu or influenza to all be the same thing... they absolutely are not!

The Flu or influenza

The influenza virus affects 3-5 million individuals per year and beyond symptomatic care for the miserable symptoms it can cause, may require antiviral medications to minimize duration of symptoms. Vaccination against the flu virus requires the yearly flu shot whether in children or adults.

Haemophilus influenzae or H. flu

Haemophilus influenzae, also known as "bacterial influenza," is a bacteria that can cause respiratory infections, mainly in children, that may mimic symptoms of the flu (the viral kind). Treatment is with antibiotics, usually augmentin, levaquin, or a cephalosporin. Vaccination against the Haemophilus influenzae typically is administered during the routine childhood vaccination series. The vaccine, HiB, is typically administered before age 5 years and does not need to be repeated thereafter, though is rare cases, adults may require a HiB booster if the spleen is removed or some other acquired immunodeficiency occurs.

So now you know!

Image of H. flu bacteria under light microscope. Image
from Wikipedia.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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