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Sepsis (septicaemia, or blood poisoning)

What is sepsis?

Sepsis (also known as 'septicaemia' or 'blood poisoning') is a serious blood infection caused by bacteria.  

Sepsis is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated quickly. If you suspect you or someone else has sepsis, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

What causes sepsis?

Sepsis can start with any bacterial infection. That infection can be in the bladder, or in the chest, or even on the skin. But the infection worsens and spreads through the blood. The body's immune reaction can make things worse, not better, and it can cause a sudden, untreatable drop in blood pressure called septic shock.

Sepsis symptoms

The symptoms of sepsis vary. They may include:

If sepsis gets worse, symptoms may include:

Sepsis diagnosis

A doctor will examine the person with sepsis and will organise blood tests as well as tests of their urine. The person would also need x-rays and perhaps other scans as well.

Further problems of sepsis

Bacteria in the blood may infect other organs, causing inflammation of the:

  • lining of the brain (meningitis)
  • abdomen (peritonitis)
  • inner layer of the heart (endocarditis)
  • joints (septic arthritis).

Sepsis can also lead to septic shock.

Sepsis treatment

Immediate treatment is important.

A person with sepsis will need to be treated in hospital since it is a serious condition and can be fatal. There, they will receive antibiotics and intravenous fluids.

Last reviewed: September 2015

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Amoxil can be used to treat a range of conditions including: Infections in the blood (septicaemia) Chest infections Urinary infections Gonorrhoea (a sexually transmitted infection) Skin infections For the prevention of infection in individuals with certain heart conditions, such as artificial heart valves

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Amikin is used to treat severe infections like septicaemia. It contains minocycline hydrochloride, a semisynthetic aminoglycoside antibiotic.

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Amikacin Injection is an antibiotic medicine containing a semisynthetic aminoglycoside agent. It is used to treat septicaemia and other serious infections.

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Neutropaenic sepsis is a systemic infection that occurs in the setting of decreased blood neutrophils (granulocytes)

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Petechiae skin purpura | myVMC

Petechiae skin purpura are pinpoint bleeds under the skin which may result from trauma, infection or in serious cases requiring treatment, a blood disorder.

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Sepsis (Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, SIRS) | myVMC

Sepsis is a severe illness caused by overwheming infection of the bloodstream by toxin-producing bacteria

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Maternal Sepsis

Maternal sepsisis a severe bacterial infection, usually of the uterus (womb), which can occur in pregnant women or more commonly, in the days following childbirth. Infection that occurs just after childbirth is also known as puerperal sepsis.

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