Changes in ascertainment of Hib and its influence on the estimation of disease incidence in the United Kingdom

Epidemiol Infect. 2007 Jul;135(5):861-7. doi: 10.1017/S0950268806007382. Epub 2006 Nov 9.


Enhanced surveillance for Hib infection, initially covering Wales and five English regions, began in 1990 and in 1995 was extended to the whole of England and Wales. To determine whether changes in the ascertainment of Haemophilus influenzae may have affected estimates of Hib disease incidence, data from January 1990 to December 2003 were analysed. A total of 8887 and 4020 (45%) cases of H. influenzae and Hib respectively were reported. The proportion of isolates that were serotyped increased over time, and therefore reported incidence may have underestimated the true incidence in the early years of the study. Adjusting for this under-ascertainment, the incidence in children aged <5 years declined from a peak of 28.3/100,000 in 1991 to 0.97/100,000 in 1998 and increased to 3.8/100,000 in 2003. Following the implementation of universal vaccination a dramatic decline in the true incidence of invasive Hib disease occurred. The observation of the subsequent resurgence was real but the highest incidence reached was 85% below the corrected incidence in the pre-vaccine era. Continued high-quality surveillance is needed in order to accurately monitor and detect changes in disease incidence.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Capsules
  • Haemophilus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Haemophilus Vaccines / immunology
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b / classification*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / immunology
  • Serotyping
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Vaccination


  • Haemophilus Vaccines
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b polysaccharide vaccine
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial