Is Sepsis Contagious?

Do you know what sepsis is? If not, you should! This life-threatening condition hospitalizes close to 1 million people each year, and it’s one of the top 10 diseases leading to mortality in the United States.

The scary thing about sepsis is that it can be easily mistaken for other illnesses. And if you end up with sepsis, the only real chance for survival is to seek immediate medical attention, which requires understanding this condition and knowing how it works and its symptoms.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about sepsis, as well as one of the most common questions people ask: “is sepsis contagious?” Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about sepsis.

What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is the body’s extreme and life-threatening response to an infection. The body releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight infection but these chemicals trigger inflammatory responses through the body which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

Sepsis ranges from less to more severe. The goal is to identify and treat sepsis in its earliest stage before it becomes more dangerous. As sepsis worsens, blood flow to vital organs, such as brain, heart, and kidneys, becomes impaired and blood clots can form, leading to organ failure and tissue death. In the most severe cases, blood pressure drops, multiple organs fail, and the patient can die quickly from septic shock. Sepsis can progress rapidly and is always a medical emergency.

Who is at Risk for Sepsis?
Anyone can develop sepsis, but there are some groups of people that are most at risk. Here are the groups of people that are most likely to develop sepsis.

People With Weak Immune Systems
If your body has a weakened immune system, you’re more likely to develop sepsis because your body cannot defend itself as well against infections. People with illnesses like diabetes or AIDS are extremely vulnerable to sepsis, as are people who have a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy or steroid medication. It’s important to know, however, that even healthy people can develop sepsis.

Babies
Young babies are vulnerable to sepsis because they don’t have fully developed immune systems. If they get an infection, they may develop sepsis if it’s not treated immediately, so if they show signs of an infection they should go to the hospital. This is incredibly important because over 5 million babies and children die each year from sepsis.

It’s difficult to tell if and when a baby has sepsis because the symptoms are similar to that of a fever, so be extra vigilant if you have a baby who is fighting an infection.

Elderly People & Hospitalized Patients
Elderly people, especially ones with illnesses like diabetes, have an increased risk of developing sepsis. Hospitalized patients are also likely to develop sepsis because of infections from things like catheters, surgical wounds, and bedsores. So if a loved one is old or in the hospital, make sure to check in on them and help them stay healthy so they can avoid infections.

Here are some other types of people who are more at risk of developing sepsis:

  • Transplant recipients taking immunosuppressive medications
  • People who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation
  • People who have had their spleen removed
  • People taking steroids
  • People who have burns or severe injuries
  • People with infections like pneumonia or meningitis

If you or a loved one fall into any of these characters, you should keep an eye out for sepsis and proactively deal with any infections you have.

What are the Symptoms of Sepsis?
If you’re dealing with any of the above conditions or one of the populations at risk, you need to be vigilant about sepsis symptoms. Here are some common symptoms of sepsis:

  • An abnormally high or low body temperature
  • Chills and severe shaking
  • Rapid heartbeats and rapid breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion, disorientation, and agitation
  • Infrequent urination (usually because of poor kidney perfusion)
  • Pain in the joints of wrists, elbows, back, knees, thighs and ankles
  • An unusual amount of sweating

If you’re experiencing any of these following conditions, you should call 911 and seek emergency medical assistance:

  • Feelings of faintness
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Trouble with breathing
  • Skin that is cool, clammy, and pale
  • Loss of consciousness

If not treated immediately, sepsis can result in death. So if you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately consult a doctor, as early treatment of sepsis can greatly improve your chances of survival.

Is Sepsis Contagious?
Now to answer the question many people are asking: “is sepsis contagious?” In general, Sepsis is not contagious. Sepsis is an infection that is out of control due to an invading organism. Sepsis is the body’s response to that infection and has definite symptoms.

It is important to know, however, that a patient’s infection itself may be contagious but most people with sepsis do not spread their infection to anyone else and in addition, people with infections do not typically get sepsis.

Sepsis is a response to an infection, so it differs widely between individuals. But most people with sepsis do not transfer their infection to anyone else.

How to Prevent Sepsis?
Now that we’ve answered the question, “is sepsis contagious?” we can discuss how to prevent it. Here are some tips for preventing sepsis:

  • Get vaccinated against potential infections like the flu and pneumonia
  • Clean your scrapes and wounds and keep them clean to prevent infection
  • If you have an infection, stay aware of possible sepsis symptoms like fever and chills
  • Wash your hands

By knowing “is sepsis contagious?,” following these prevention tips, and knowing the signs of sepsis, you can keep yourself healthy.

Final Thoughts on Sepsis
Sepsis is a scary and serious condition, and it can have deadly outcomes if you don’t treat it in a timely fashion. The key to staying safe is taking preventive measures and staying on top of your health, especially if you have preexisting conditions or are part of a group vulnerable to sepsis.

Are you still wondering “is sepsis contagious?” or have more questions about the condition? Have you or a loved one dealt with sepsis? Do you want to donate to sepsis prevention? Let us know in the comments!