New Online Resource Reminds Internet Users to Safeguard Against Hib Disease

CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- Today the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) launched Hibdisease.com, a comprehensive online resource for both healthcare providers and parents, which focuses on Hib disease (Haemophilus influenzae type B), a vaccine preventable childhood disease that was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis and post-natal mental retardation prior to the availability of effective vaccines. Hib disease continues to pose a serious threat to U.S. children.

"Due to the success of Hib conjugate vaccines, we have seen a decline in the number of Hib cases in the U.S. As a result, many people don't know that the Hib organism still circulates in the general population and have forgotten how devastating this disease can be," said Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco, a pediatric nurse practitioner who chairs NAPNAP's special interest group on immunization. "In the U.S., there are still too many cases of Hib disease every year, which can jeopardize a child's ability to talk, walk or perform daily activities by himself or herself. Hibdisease.com is a powerful tool, reminding us why both healthcare providers and parents must remain diligent in maintaining high immunization rates."

Hibdisease.com aims to promote awareness of current issues related to Hib disease and its prevention. The site includes an overview of Hib disease in the U.S., professional perspectives on Hib disease, a resource guide and a reporting guide. In addition, the parental section of the Web site (available in both English and Spanish) features frequently asked questions and personal experiences with Hib disease.

Hibdisease.com provides easy-to-access information for healthcare professionals by addressing such issues as:

-- Hib carriage

-- Disease surveillance

-- Under-immunization

-- Racial disparity

"It's an unfortunate occurrence that we still see cases of Hib disease in the U.S. when there is a highly effective vaccine to safeguard children from this severe illness," said Dana DeShon, a pediatric nurse practitioner who serves on the editorial board for Hibdisease.com and member of the NAPNAP Immunization Special Interest Group. "Hibdisease.com can serve as an easy-to-use educational resource for healthcare providers and parents to research current issues on Hib disease. Hopefully, the Web site will generate awareness of the resurgent risk that Hib disease poses if we fail to maintain high immunization rates."

Before the introduction of Hib conjugate vaccines, one in every 200 children in the U.S. younger than 5 years of age was affected by Hib disease. Hib infection can result in serious invasive disease, including meningitis, sepsis, pneumonia, arthritis, cellulites, epiglottis and may even cause death. Hib disease typically occurs in infants and young children and was the most common cause of bacterial meningitis and post-natal mental retardation prior to the availability of effective vaccines.

Hib disease can be transmitted in a variety of ways. One such method by which Hib disease is spread is known as carriage, or more specifically, oropharyngeal carriage, which is defined as the colonization of the Hib organism in the mouth and throat in the general population. This continued presence of the organism in infected populations, or even in the general U.S. population, helps underscore the need to continue immunizing against this disease.

Immunization has consistently proven the best intervention for protecting against Hib disease. Experience with Hib conjugate vaccines has shown that Hib vaccines are both safe and effective. Routine Hib conjugate immunization has consistently led to decreases in invasive Hib disease of 90 percent or more in the U.S. and other countries.

All Hib conjugate vaccines have shown to be efficacious in preventing invasive Hib disease in clinical trials. However, they differ in the timing and extent of antibody response. Several researchers have linked higher anti-PRP titers (antibody response) following immunization with higher effectiveness of protection against Hib disease.

NAPNAP is the professional association that advocates for children and Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. NAPNAP has more than 6,600 members and 50 chapters in 30 states.

Source: National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

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