Also known as: septicemia, severe sepsis, septic shock.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a medical emergency that happens when the body’s immune system, while fighting an infection, attacks the body’s own organs. Newborns and young infants are at a greater risk for sepsis as well as children with chronic health conditions. Sepsis is not common but any child can get septic so every caregiver should know what to look for.

What are the signs of sepsis?

Some of the symptoms of sepsis can occur in less serious infections however if you are concerned your child is ill, seek medical care. Sepsis symptoms include: 

  • Fever or low body temperature
  • Fast heart rate 
  • Rapid breathing or working hard to breathe
  • Pale, cold or blue skin
  • Poor feeding or vomiting
  • Less active, not interested in playing or interacting
  • Irritable or confused

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

Symptoms of sepsis include fever, high heart rate, rapid breathing, mental changes, abdominal pain, low blood pressure and potentially more severe complications. If you are concerned that your child may have sepsis, seek medical care immediately and let the providers know you are worried about sepsis.

What are sepsis care options?

Treatment for sepsis can include intravenous fluids, antibiotics, oxygen, and medication for low blood pressure. Ensure that your child maintains regular visits to your primary care provider and that immunizations are up to date. Always keep open wounds clean until healed and monitor your child for early signs of infection.

If you have any concerns, please consult your care provider.

What is IPSO?

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital joined a collaborative with Children's Hospital Association called Improving Pediatric Sepsis Outcomes (IPSO) to reduce the incidence of severe sepsis (SS) and associated mortality through early identification and treatment. Members of this collaborative work to prevent hospital-onset severe sepsis and sepsis deaths through timely and reliable implementation of evidence-based diagnostic and care processes across the hospital.

Reviewed by: Rodney Baker, MD

This page was last updated on: July 22, 2022 10:25 AM

Infectious Diseases

The Division of Infectious Diseases at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital uses state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to identify acute or chronic viral and bacterial diseases, so that we can treat it effectively as quickly as possible.

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