Septicemia is bacteria in the blood (
Blood poisoning; Bacteremia with sepsis
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Septicemia is a serious, life-threatening infection that gets worse very quickly. It can arise from infections throughout the body, including infections in the lungs, abdomen, and urinary tract. It may come before or at the same time as infections of the:
Central nervous system (
Septicemia can begin with:
Rapid heart rate
The person looks very ill.
The symptoms quickly progress to:
Confusion or other changes in mental status
Red spots on the skin (
There may be
Signs and tests
- Low blood pressure
Low body temperatureor fever
- Signs of related disease (such as meningitis,
epiglottitis, pneumonia, or cellulitis)
Tests that can confirm infection include:
- Blood gases
- Clotting studies
PT PTT Fibrinogenlevels
- Culture of skin sore
Platelet count Urine culture
Septicemia is a serious condition that requires a hospital stay. You may be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU).
You may be given:
Antibiotics to treat the infection
Fluids and medicines by IV to maintain the blood pressure
Plasma or other blood products to correct any clotting problems
The outlook depends on the bacteria involved and how quickly the patient is hospitalized and treatment begins. The death rate is high — more than 50% for some infections.
Septicemia can quickly lead to:
Adult respiratory distress syndrome(ARDS)
Septicemia due to meningococci can lead to
Calling your health care provider
Septicemia is not common but it is very serious. Diagnosing it early may prevent septicemia from worsening to shock.
Seek immediate care if:
- A person has a fever, shaking chills, and looks very ill
- Any person who has been ill has changes in mental status
- There are signs of bleeding into the skin
Call your health care provider if your child’s
Getting treated for infections can prevent septicemia. The Haemophilus influenza B (HIB) vaccine and S. pneumoniae vaccine have already reduced the number of septicemia cases in children. Both are recommended childhood immunizations.
In rare cases, people who are in close contact with someone who has septicemia may be prescribed preventive antibiotics.