St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Septicemia

    Blood poisoning; Bacteremia with sepsis

    Septicemia is bacteria in the blood (bacteremia) that often occurs with severe infections.

    Causes

    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:

    • Bone (osteomyelitis)
    • Central nervous system (meningitis)
    • Heart (endocarditis)
    • Other tissues

    Symptoms

    Septicemia can begin with:

    • Chills
    • High fever
    • Rapid breathing
    • 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 (petechiae and ecchymosis)
    • Shock

    There may be decreased or no urine output.

    Exams and Tests

    A physical examination may show:

    • Low blood pressure
    • Low body temperature or fever
    • Signs of related disease (such as meningitis, epiglottitis, pneumonia, or cellulitis)

    Tests that can confirm infection include:

    • Blood culture
    • Blood gases
    • CBC
    • Clotting studies
      • PT
      • PTT
      • Fibrinogen levels
    • CSF culture
    • Culture of skin sore
    • Platelet count
    • Urine culture

    Treatment

    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
    • Oxygen
    • Plasma or other blood products to correct any clotting problems

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    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.

    Possible Complications

    Septicemia can quickly lead to:

    • Adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
    • Septic shock
    • Death

    Septicemia due to meningococci can lead to shock or adrenal collapse (Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome).

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    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 vaccinations are not up-to-date.

    Prevention

    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.

    References

    Munford RS, Suffredini AF. Sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2009: chap 70.

    Shapiro NI, Zimmer GD, Barkin AZ. Sepsis syndromes. In: Marx, JA, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009: chap 136.

    Orenstein WA, Pickering LK. Immunization practices. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 165.

    BACK TO TOP

          Tests for Septicemia

            Review Date: 8/24/2011

            Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
            adam.com

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


            Back  |  Top
            About Us
            Contact Us
            History
            Mission
            Locations & Directions
            Quality Reports
            Annual Reports
            Honors & Awards
            Community Health Needs
            Assessment

            Newsroom
            Services
            Brain & Spine
            Cancer
            Heart
            Maternity
            Orthopedics
            Pulmonary
            Sleep Medicine
            Urgent Care
            Women's Services
            All Services
            Patients & Visitors
            Locations & Directions
            Find a Physician
            Tour St. Luke's
            Patient & Visitor Information
            Contact Us
            Payment Options
            Financial Assistance
            Send a Card
            Mammogram Appointments
            Health Tools
            My Personal Health
            mystlukes
            Spirit of Women
            Health Information & Tools
            Clinical Trials
            Health Risk Assessments
            Employer Programs -
            Passport to Wellness

            Classes & Events
            Classes & Events
            Spirit of Women
            Donate & Volunteer
            Giving Opportunities
            Volunteer
            Physicians & Employees
            For Physicians
            Remote Access
            Medical Residency Information
            Pharmacy Residency Information
            Physician CPOE Training
            Careers
            Careers
            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
            Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile