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Haemophilus influenzae Sepsis and Placental Abruption in an Unvaccinated Immigrant


Background: Haemophilus influenzae infections have declined dramatically in the United States sinceimplementation of the conjugate vaccine. However, in countries where widespread immunization is notroutine, H influenzae remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. We report a case of apreviously unvaccinated immigrant with confirmed H influenzae sepsis and placental abruption leadingto spontaneous abortion.

Objectives: To alert emergency medicine practitioners that H influenzae should be recognized as amaternal, fetal, and neonatal pathogen. Clinicians should consider this diagnosis in immigrants presentingwith uncertain vaccination history, as H influenzae can cause significant morbidity and mortality.

Case Presentation: A 36-year-old female was referred to our emergency department (ED) with lowerabdominal pain with some vaginal spotting. The patient had an initial visit with normal laboratoryinvestigations and normal imaging results, with complete resolution of symptoms. The patient returned tothe ED with sudden onset of vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. She presented at this time with sepsis,which progressed to septic shock, causing placental abruption and ultimately, spontaneous abortion. Thepatient was treated with pressors and antibiotics and was admitted to the medical intensive care unitwhere she received ampicillin, gentamycin, and clindamycin for suspected chorioamnionitis. The patient’sblood cultures came back positive after 1 day for H influenzae. The patient did well and was dischargedfrom the hospital 4 days later.

Conclusion: Haemophilus influenzae should be recognized as a neonatal and maternal pathogen.Clinicians should consider this diagnosis in immigrants presenting with uncertain vaccination history,especially in pregnant females, as H influenzae can cause significant morbidity and mortality. [West JEmerg Med. 2012;13(1):133–135.]

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