First Annual World Sepsis Day

Sepsis is a whole-​​body inflam­ma­tory response to an over­whelming infec­tion by bac­teria or other microogransim. At first glance, it may not seem like a big enough issue to ded­i­cate a whole day toward. But con­sider the fol­lowing and then decide:

  1. Every 3-4 seconds, someone dies of sepsis.
  2. 70% of all infant deaths worldwide are due to infections leading to sepsis.
  3. Twenty to 30 million people are estimated to be afflicted worldwide.
  4. More people are hospitalized due to sepsis than due to heart attack each year.
  5. Despite modern vaccines, antibiotics and intensive care, sepsis instances continue to rise.

Steven Leonard, assis­tant pro­fessor of phar­macy prac­tice in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ence, has ded­i­cated his research to the effec­tive treat­ment of bac­teria that cause the infec­tion. “Antimi­cro­bials are gen­er­ally the ‘cure’ for sepsis,” he said. “But it is the crit­ical care side of treat­ment (mechan­ical ven­ti­la­tion, main­te­nance of blood pres­sure, etc.,) that keeps the patient alive, giving the antimi­cro­bials time to do their job of erad­i­cating the infecting organism.”

The con­di­tion can stem from some­thing as “seem­ingly minor as a scratch that gets infected,” said Leonard. “People who are immuno­sup­pressed for some reason may not mount enough response to the invading pathogen and are there­fore more at risk for an over­whelming infec­tion.” Var­ious dis­eases and drug treat­ments, as well as stage of life can all com­pro­mise a person’s immune system making him or her more sus­cep­tible to sepsis.

Nonethe­less, “pre­venting it is dif­fi­cult because it is hard to pre­dict which patient will have an infec­tion, when they will have the infec­tion, and how severe it will be,” said Leonard. “The best method to deal with sepsis is early recog­ni­tion of the signs and symp­toms and rapid response with appro­priate therapy.”

The Global Sepsis Alliance cre­ated World Sepsis Day to raise aware­ness of the con­di­tion and to min­i­mize its impact on our global society. “By pro­moting good gen­eral hygiene prac­tices like proper hand hygiene and clean birthing con­di­tions,” states the web­site, “as well as improve­ments in san­i­ta­tion and nutri­tion, access to clean water, and vac­ci­na­tion pro­grams for spe­cific patient pop­u­la­tions, we aim to reduce the global inci­dence of sepsis by at least 20% by 2020.”

Do you know someone who has suf­fered from sepsis or is the issue news to you like it was to me? What do you think of global aware­ness days like this? Do you think they can have the impact they aim for?