Haemophilus influenzae is a small Gram-negative coccobacillus which can normally colonize the human respiratory tract. There are two major categories of H. influenzae - encapsulated strains and unencapsulated strains.
Encapsulated strains are classified into six serotypes based on their capsular antigens - a, b, c, d, e and f, and unencapsulated strains are called nontypable, because they lack the polysaccharide capsule, and, consequently, capsular antigens.
The strains that cause disease in humans are most often Haemophilus influenzae type b, or Hib for short and Haemophilus influenzae nontypable.
Now, Haemophilus influenzae has a thin peptidoglycan layer, so it doesn’t retain the crystal violet dye during Gram staining. Instead, like any other Gram-negative bacteria, it stains pink with safranin dye.
And since it’s a coccobacillus, it’s shaped somewhere between round, like a coccus, and linear, like a bacillus. Haemophilus influenzae is non-motile, so it doesn’t move, and facultative anaerobic which means it can survive both in aerobic and anaerobic environments. It’s also catalase and oxidase positive which means it produces both these enzymes.
Finally, Haemophilus influenzae can be cultivated on chocolate agar, because this medium contains essential nutrients that Haemophilus influenzae needs to grow, like factor X, also called hemin, and factor V, also called nicotinamide adenine nucleotide.
Another way to grow it is to grow it with Staphylococcus aureus colonies, on blood agar, which provides factor V via red blood cells hemolysis.
On both blood agar and chocolate agar, Haemophilus influenzae grows into convex, smooth, gray or transparent colonies. Now, Haemophilus influenzae has a number of virulence factors, that are like assault weaponry that help it attack and destroy the host cells, and evade the immune system.
So first, encapsulated strains of Haemophilus influenzae are covered by a polysaccharide layer called a capsule. Now, this capsule is a major virulence factor for Haemophilus influenzae because of its antiphagocytic ability, meaning that it protects the bacteria against phagocytosis by macrophages or neutrophils.