Field of Science

H. influenzae and influenza

Haemophilus influenzae got its name because (1) it likes to grow on medium that contains blood (it needs heme and NAD, which blood has lots of) and (2) it was identified as commonly present in lings and sputum of patients ill with influenza in the 1918 global epidemic. It was initially suspected of being the causative agent of influenza, before the virus was discovered. If you're interested in the history of medicine, I strongly recommend the book The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry.

Anyway, the new H1N1 influenza epidemic probably means we'll see a rise in H. influenzae pneumonia. I'm mentioning this in my grant application, in the paragraph on the medical relevance of H. influenzae.

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