World Sepsis Day

Written by Dr. Kate McCann
13th September 2023

What is Sepsis? 

Sepsis arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. It may lead to shock, multi-organ failure, and death – especially if not recognized early and treated promptly. Sepsis is the final common pathway to death from most infectious diseases worldwide, including viral infections such as SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19.

Is it a Problem?

Sepsis is a global health crisis.

It affects between 47 and 50 million people every year, at least 11 million die – one death every 2.8 seconds.

20% of all deaths worldwide are associated with sepsis.

Depending on country, mortality varies between 15 and more than 50 %.

Many surviving patients suffer from the consequences of sepsis for the rest of their lives.

What causes Sepsis?

Most types of microorganisms can cause sepsis, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. However, it may also be caused by infections with seasonal influenza viruses, dengue viruses, and highly transmissible pathogens of public health concern; such as avian and swine influenza viruses, Ebola, and yellow fever viruses.

Sepsis often presents as the clinical deterioration of common and preventable infections such as those of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and urinary tract, or of wounds and skin. Sepsis is frequently under-diagnosed at an early stage – when it still is potentially reversible.

What are the Symptoms?

The following symptoms might indicate sepsis:

  • Slurred speech or confusion (children may be unusually sleepy or difficult to wake up or unusually irritable)

  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain, fever

  • Passing no urine all day (for infants/toddlers, this can mean dry nappies for hours)

  • Severe breathlessness

  • Feeling very unwell

  • Skin mottled or discolored

If you or someone else have a confirmed or suspected infection and are experiencing any of these symptoms, please get medical attention immediately.

Who gets Sepsis?

Everybody can get sepsis, no matter how healthy or how good in shape you are, or where you live. Certain people are at an even higher risk. Those include:

  • Children under 1

  • Adults over 60

  • People with no spleen

  • People with chronic diseases, e.g. lung, liver, heart

  • People with weakened immune systems, e.g. AIDS, Diabetes

Can we prevent Sepsis?

Sepsis is the number one cause of preventable death worldwide. The best way to prevent sepsis is to prevent infection in the first place, which can be done by:

  • Vaccination**

  • Clean water

  • Hand hygiene

  • Prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAIs)

  • Safe childbirth

  • Awareness

Read more?

World Sepsis Day

HSE information on Sepsis

*Sepsis is a complication from many vaccine-preventable diseases, including influenza, Covid, Chickenpox, pneumo, and Meningococcal. If you are vaccine hesistant, that’s okay. But don’t just hesitate.  Make sure you are getting trusted resources.  This Blog is searchable and has posted a few times on further information and reading lists for parents/carers. 

 

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