Haemophilus Pneumonia

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A micrograph of Haemophilus influenzae is shown. It looks like a brown disc with white streaks.
Culture of Haemophilus influenzae on a chocolate agar plate. (credit: modification of work by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

OpenStax Microbiology

Encapsulated strains of Haemophilus influenzae are known for causing meningitis, but nonencapsulated strains are important causes of pneumonia. This small, gram-negative coccobacillus is found in the pharynx of the majority of healthy children; however, Haemophilus pneumonia is primarily seen in the elderly. Like other pathogens that cause pneumonia, H. influenzae is spread by droplets and aerosols produced by coughing. A fastidious organism, H. influenzae will only grow on media with available factor X (hemin) and factor V (NAD), like chocolate agar. Serotyping must be performed to confirm identity of H. influenzae isolates.

Infections of the alveoli by H. influenzae result in inflammation and accumulation of fluids. Increasing resistance to β-lactams, macrolides, and tetracyclines presents challenges for the treatment of Haemophilus pneumonia. Resistance to the fluoroquinolones is rare among isolates of H. influenzae but has been observed. As discussed for AOM, a vaccine directed against nonencapsulated H. influenzae, if developed, would provide protection against pneumonia caused by this pathogen.


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/microbiology