Alternative names: Septicemia. The term septicemia is no longer used by the consensus committee.
Sepsis is a serious, rapidly progressing, life-threatening infection that can arise secondary to localized infections of the respiratory, genitourinary or gastrointestinal tract, or from the skin.
It may precede or coincide with infections of the bone, central nervous system or other tissues.
Onset of sepsis is heralded by spiking fevers and chills, rapid breathing and heart rate, the outward appearance of being seriously ill (toxic) and a feeling of impending doom. These symptoms rapidly progress to shock with decreased body temperature (hypothermia), falling blood pressure, confusion or other changes in the mental status, and clotting abnormalities evidenced by hemorrhagic lesions in the skin.
Sepsis can rapidly lead to septic shock and death, being associated with organisms such as meningococci that can lead to shock, adrenal collapse and disseminated intravascular coagulation.
Certain bacteria, including pneumococcus and haemophilus, that are usually confined to local infections may become blood-borne (septic) and widespread in splenectomized persons. To avoid this potentially fatal situation, they are usually instructed to seek medical attention promptly for all fevers or obvious infections.
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