Case report of congenital asplenia presenting with Haemophilus influenzae type a (Hia) sepsis: an emerging pediatric infection in Minnesota

Tiffany Albrecht, Kristina Poss, Satja Issaranggoon Na Ayuthaya, Lori Triden, Katherine L. Schleiss, Mark R. Schleiss

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6 Scopus citations


Background: In the pre-vaccine era, invasive disease with Haemophilus influenzae, type b (Hib) commonly presented with osteoarticular involvement. Haemophilus influenzae, type a (Hia) sepsis is a rare but emerging problem in recent years. Here, we report a case of sepsis with concomitant osteoarthritis due to Hia that was the presenting infectious disease manifestation of isolated asplenia in a young child. This unique observation adds to our understanding of sepsis and asplenia in children. Case presentation: A five-year-old girl developed acute Hia bacteremia and sepsis. The patient developed arthritis shortly after onset of septic shock. Arthrocentesis was culture-negative, but given the difficulty differentiating between septic and reactive arthritis, prolonged antibiotic administration was provided for presumed osteoarticular infection, and the patient had an uneventful recovery. The finding of Howell-Jolly bodies on blood smear at the time of presentation prompted an evaluation that revealed isolated congenital asplenia. Evaluation for known genetic causes of asplenia was unrevealing. Investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health revealed an emergence of Hia infections over the past 5 years, particularly in children with an American Indian background. Conclusions: Hia is an important pathogen in the differential diagnosis of invasive bacterial infections in children and shares overlap in clinical presentation and pathogenesis with Hib. Invasive Hia disease can be a presenting manifestation of asplenia in children. Hia is an emerging pathogen in American Indian children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number947
JournalBMC infectious diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 8 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Asplenia
  • Haemophilus influenzae vaccines
  • Haemophilus influenze type A
  • Haemophilus influenze type B
  • Hib vaccines
  • Isolated congenital asplenia
  • Septic arthritis


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