Invasive Haemophilus influenzae Serotype a Infection in Children: Clinical Description of an Emerging Pathogen—Alaska, 2002–2014

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Background:Invasive infections from Haemophilus influenzae serotype a (Hia) have been reported with increasing frequency, especially among indigenous populations. However, there are limited population-based studies of clinical severity. We studied invasive Hia infections in Alaska to determine clinical characteristics, mortality and sequelae.Methods:We defined an invasive Hia infection as the first detection of Hia from a usually sterile site in a child <10 years of age from Alaska. We identified cases using the Alaska Invasive Bacterial Diseases Surveillance System and reviewed medical charts up to 2 years after reported illness.Results:We identified invasive Hia infections in 36 children, 28 (78%) <1 year old, 34 (94%) living in an Alaskan village and 25 (69%) without documented underlying illness. Overlapping clinical presentations included meningitis in 15 children (42%); bacteremia and pneumonia in 10 children (28%); and bone, joint or soft tissue infections in 10 children (22%). In 4 other children, no source of invasive infection was identified. Intensive care was provided for 11 children (31%); 12 children (33%) required surgical intervention. One year after infection, 4 children (11%) had died from Hia, and 5 children (14%) had ongoing neurologic sequelae.Conclusions:Invasive Hia infections in Alaska occurred predominantly in Alaska Native infants in rural communities. Although one-third of children had preexisting conditions, most cases occurred without known comorbidity. Clinical syndromes were frequently severe. One year after infection, 1 in 4 children had either died or had neurologic sequelae. An effective vaccine would prevent significant morbidity and mortality in affected populations.

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