Sepsis

What is it?
Sepsis (or septicemia) is an infection in the bloodstream caused by bacteria. The bacteria usually enters the body through the stomach or intestine, the kidneys or bladder, the ears, the lungs, or the skin. Newborns, premature babies, and children with other health problems are especially at risk for sepsis because their immune systems are not fully developed.

What are the signs?
The signs of sepsis may include (but are not limited to):
  • Poor feeding
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Irritability or extreme fussiness
  • Fever
  • Appearance of a rash

Tests and Treatment
If your doctor suspects that your child has sepsis, several tests may be ordered. These may include a blood culture and a urine test. A spinal tap may also be necessary. The final results of some of these tests may take approximately three days. A chest X-ray may be done if a respiratory infection is suspected.

Sepsis can have very serious consequences and is therefore treated very aggressively. Antibiotics will be started and given through an IV (intravenous). Your child will be watched closely for fever, increasing irritability or sleepiness, and response to the medications.

Infections in children cannot always be prevented. It is important, however,to protect your child from preventable diseases by making sure they get all their routine immunizations.

Family members and persons who have been in close contact with the infectious child may be prescribed antibiotics to guard against developing the disease. Speak with your doctor to determine if this is necessary for your family.

If you have any questions about your child's illness, tests, or treatment while they are in the hospital, please ask your Pediatric Nurse. We're here to help!