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Alternative namesSepticemia is the presence of bacteria in the blood ( bacteremia ) and is often associated with severe disease.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Septicemia is a serious, rapidly progressing, life-threatening infection that can arise from infections throughout the body, including infections in the lungs, abdomen, and urinary tract. It may precede or coincide with infections of the bone ( osteomyelitis ), central nervous system ( meningitis ), or other tissues.
Septicemia can rapidly lead to septic shock and death. Septicemia associated with some organisms such as meningococci can lead to shock , adrenal collapse, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy , a condition called Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome .
Signs and testsPhysical examination may show:
TreatmentThis disorder must be treated in a hospital, usually with admission to an intensive care unit.
Intravenous (IV) fluids are given to maintain the blood pressure . Strong IV drugs called sympathomimetics are often needed to maintain the blood pressure. Oxygen therapy is begun to maintain oxygen saturation.
The infection is treated with broad spectrum antibiotics (those that are effective against a wide range of organisms) before the organism is identified. Once cultures have identified the specific organism that is responsible for the infection, antibiotics that are specific for that organism are begun.
Plasma or other treatment may be needed for correction of clotting abnormalities.
Expectations (prognosis)Septic shock has a high death rate, exceeding 50%, depending on the type of organism involved. The organism involved and the immediacy of hospitalization will determine the outcome.
Calling your health care providerSepticemia is not common but is devastating and early recognition may prevent progression to shock.
Call your health care provider if your child is not current on vaccinations or has not had immunizations for Hemophilus influenza B , commonly referred to as a HIB shot. If your child has a damaged spleen from any disease or has had it removed, schedule an appointment for an immunization against pneumococcal disease.
Appropriate treatment of localized infections can prevent septicemia. HIB vaccine for children has already reduced the number of cases of Hemophilus septicemia (and Hemophilus meningitis, epiglottitis, and periorbital cellulitis ) and is a routine part of the recommended childhood immunization schedule.
Children who have had their spleen removed or who have diseases that damage the spleen (such as sickle cell anemia ) should receive pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumococcal vaccine is not part of the routine childhood immunization schedule.
Update Date: 11/18/2003D. Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H, Infectious Diseases Division and Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT