Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and Hib are all serious life-threatening diseases caused by bacterial infection. Hepatitis B and poliomyelitis are infectious diseases caused by viral infection.
Diphtheria mainly affects the airways and sometimes the skin. Generally the airways become inflamed (swollen) causing severe breathing difficulties and sometimes suffocation. The bacteria also release a toxin (poison), which can cause nerve damage, heart problems, and death. The risk of serious complications and death is greater in the very young and elderly.
Tetanus bacteria enter the body through wounded skin. Wounds that are especially prone to infection are burns, fractures, deep wounds or wounds contaminated with soil, dust, horse manure or wood splinters. The bacteria release a toxin (poison), which can cause muscle stiffness, painful muscle spasms, fits and death. The spasms can be strong enough to cause bone fractures of the spine. The death rate is 10% of cases.
Pertussis is a highly infectious illness. The disease affects the breathing tract causing severe spells of coughing that may interfere with normal breathing. The coughing is often accompanied by a ‘whooping’ sound. The cough may last for 1-2 months or longer. Pertussis can also cause inner ear infections, long-lasting bronchitis, pneumonia, fits, brain damage and death. The risk of severe complications and death is greatest in infants under 6 months of age. The death rate is 0.5% for infants under 6 months of age.
Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus. It causes the liver to be become swollen (inflamed). The virus is found in body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or saliva of infected people. The virus can enter the bloodstream through:
· an infected mother passing the virus onto her baby during or shortly after birth
· sores, cuts or tiny wounds coming into contact with infected fluids (eg from a human bite, sharing razors or toothbrushes, or working with human blood or body fluids)
· injection (eg needlestick injury, or sharing needles for IV drug use)
· sexual intercourse
Some people infected with hepatitis B may not look or feel sick. But others will get symptoms, which may not be seen for 6 weeks to 6 months after infection. Sometimes people will only have mild flu-like symptoms, but other people can become very ill. They may be extremely tired, and have dark urine, pale faeces, yellowish skin and/or eyes (jaundice), and other symptoms possibly requiring hospitalisation.
Most adults fully recover from the disease. However, some people, particularly children, who may not have had symptoms, can remain infected. They are called hepatitis B virus carriers. Hepatitis B carriers can infect others throughout their lives.
Babies infected with hepatitis B at birth almost always become carriers. Often they do not show symptoms, and seem healthy for many years. However, after 30, 40 or 50 years they can become sick and develop symptoms. For all chronic hepatitis B carriers there is a risk of serious liver disease, such as cirrhosis (liver scarring) and liver cancer.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis B.
Polio is a viral infection that can have variable effects. Often it causes only a mild illness but in some people it causes permanent injury or death.
In its severest form, polio infection causes paralysis of the muscles, including those needed for breathing and walking. Polio infection can leave a person unable to breathe without the help of an iron lung machine, unable to walk without leg braces, or confined to a wheel chair. The limbs affected by the disease may be painfully deformed.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
Hib most frequently causes brain inflammation (swelling), which is generally seen in infants under 18 months of age. The death rate is 5-10% of infants in this age group. In 15-30% of surviving infants there will be some type of serious complication such as: mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness, epilepsy or partial blindness. Hib also causes inflammation of the throat, which is mostly seen in children over 18 months of age. It occasionally causes death by suffocation. Less commonly, the bacteria can also infect the blood, heart, lungs, bones, joints, and tissues of the eyes and mouth.
Vaccination is the best way to protect against these diseases. INFANRIX hexa vaccine cannot give your child diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B or polio infection. The vaccine will not protect against diseases caused by other types of bacteria, viruses or organisms. If a person is already infected with the hepatitis B virus at the time of vaccination, INFANRIX hexa may not prevent the disease in these people.