When a child or adult has an infection, the body’s immune system kicks into gear to fight it off. When faced with a viral infection (like a cold or flu) or a bacterial infection (like strep), a child may experience symptoms like fever, sore throat, body aches and headache. Those symptoms are usually manageable and a healthy immune response ensures the child will recover fully within a few days.
Sometimes, when the immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection, those chemicals can attack normal organs and tissues. This immune overreaction can cause inflammation, blood flow problems, low blood pressure, trouble breathing and vital organ failure. Sepsis in children – and adults – can be life threatening.
Who is at risk for developing sepsis?
Sepsis is rare, but it can develop in children or adults of any age. It is most common in: Newborns and infants under 3 months of age whose immature immune systems can’t fight off overwhelming infections
Children not vaccinated for the two bacteria that most commonly causes sepsis, Streptococcus pneumoniae (also called pneumococcus) and Haemophilus influenzae
Children or adults with chronic medical conditions
Children or adults with HIV, cancer or other conditions that weaken the immune system