Hamilton woman dies from Haemophilus influenza

A Hamilton woman died suddenly last week after a bacterial infection called haemophilus influenza.

Public health officials say dying from the disease is rare but there are ways to lower the risk of serious complications or death.

Jessica Martin was just 35 years old when her life came to a unexpected end on December 5th. She received an honours degree from McMaster, she loved to travel and was engaged to be married.

According to her obituary, she was taken to the hospital after suffering sudden severe flu like symptoms, but within a matter of hours she was gone. Her sister lisa told the Hamilton Spectator that according to the coroner, Jessica became infected with haemophilus influenzae bacteria.

“It can be as minor as a simple ear infection, a throat infection, but it can become more serious like pneumonia or meningitis.” Dr. Ninh Tran, Medical officer of health for the city of Hamilton.

Dr. Tran says cases of death are rare, it could be due to province wide mandatory immunization requirements. Vaccinations targeting haemophilus influenza type B also known as hib, is covered in childhood vaccine called Pentacel, routinely given at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months.

Despite it’s name, the bacterial influenza has nothing to do with the flu but doctors say you should take similar preventative measures.

Dr. Tran says haemophilus influenza is treatable with appropriate antibiotics but recovery isn’t always guaranteed.

Doctors say the number of severe cases of this bacterial infection have gone down since the mandatory vaccination.

According to Health Canada, there are several types of this disease that range in severity. Bacteria is passed from person to person through the airways but if the bacteria enters into the bloodstream or spinal cord, severe and potentially fatal infections can occur.


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