Hospital admissions in England for potentially fatal sepsis have more than doubled in three years.
All age groups, including the very young, experienced an increase, prompting the head of the British Sepsis Trust to warn parents that this was necessary. Be as vigilant in sepsis as you are in meningitis.
It is estimated that 52,000 people die from sepsis in Britain every year. Ron Daniels, CEO of the UK's Sepsis Trust, said increasing numbers of antibiotic resistance in the population and a growing awareness of sepsis are factors in the numbers.
"One or two decades ago, infections like urinary tract infections would be easily controlled by antibiotics. Not so today, "said Daniels. "If the antibiotic does not control the infection, it can become more complicated ̵
The NHS Digital data collected by the Press Association show that in 2017, 350,344 hospital admissions were registered with a first or second diagnosis of sepsis18, compared to 169,125 three years ago, including 38,401 new admissions to children under the age of four after 30,981 in 2015/16
48,647 new admissions to children and adolescents under the age of 24 in 2017/18, an increase of 32% over 36,847 in 2015/16
] "This means that parents still need to know about meningitis, arguably but need to know more about sepsis as it affects many more children and can be equally deadly, "said Daniels.
He said the aging population also meant that more older people suffered from sepsis than before. Daniels said that "invasive health care" could increase the risk of infection in very young or very elderly people whose immune systems are weakened. Any under-treated infection increases the risk of sepsis development.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) has indicated that a tool to track childhood sepsis is not being used as often as it should be, and the A & E departments are having problems with it Children who are suspected of having a condition can be seen quickly enough and then examined by an experienced doctor.
A RCEM review found that 92% of A & E staff had a child sepsis risk assessment tool, but this was on average only 38% of the time.
The report's lead author, Francesca Cleugh, said the tools had led to too many children with a high-risk category of fever, "limiting their consistent use in emergency rooms. This leads to an over-examination and excessive use of intravenous antibiotics, which contributes to antibiotic resistance.
Parents who suspect sepsis are advised to contact A & E. Symptoms include a blotchy, bluish or pale appearance, lethargy or difficulty waking up, an unusually cold sensation of touch, very rapid breathing or a seizure or rash that does not fade.
Other warning signs in adults and children are: high or low temperatures, difficulty breathing, growling and no interest in usual activities.