Infectious disease associated with Haemophilus spp and specimen for culture

Haemophilus influenzae can cause many kinds of infections. Which can range from mild ear infections to severe diseases, like meningitis. Haemophilus influenzae bacteria most often cause pneumonia, bacteremia and meningitis mostly in infants and children younger than five years of age.

Note: In spite of its name, Haemophilus influenzae does not cause influenza (the “flu”)

There are six identifiable types of Haemophilus influenzae bacteria (a through f) and other non-identifiable types (called nontypeable). Haemophilus influenzae type b, or Hib is associated with most of the clinical cases for which vaccine is also available.

Disease Species Specimen for culture
Meningitis H. influenzae type b Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); Blood
Epiglottis H. influenzae type b Blood; laryangeal secretions
Otitis media H. influenzae nontypeable strains Swab of drainage in ear canal; needle aspiration. If systemic disease is suspected blood/CSF culture is recommended
Acute sinusitis H. influenzae usually nontypeable strains; in rare cases H. parainfluenzae is also involved Sinus aspirates, Surgical specimens
Acute Pharyngitis/ laryngotracheobronchitis H. influenzae type b Posterior pharyngeal swab; laryngeal secretions
Bronchitis H. influenzae nontypeable strains Sputum; transtracheal aspirates; bronchial washings
Pneumonia H. influenzae type b; incase of elderly patients  nontypeable strains may involve Sputum; tracheal aspirates; bronchial washings
Endocarditis H. aphrophilus; H. paraphrophilus; H. parainfluenzae; rarely, H. influenza Blood
Genital tract infection and postpartum bacteremia H. influenza nontypeable; H. parainfluenzae Urethral and Endocervical specimens; Blood.
Conjunctivitis H. influenza biogroup aegyptius Conjunctival swab
Chancroid H. ducreyi Swab obtained from genital ulcers; aspirates from buboes; endocervical swabs
Brazilian purpuric fever H. influenzae biogroup aegyptius Blood; conjunctival swabs; skin lesions