Menu   WellSpan Health

Health Library

Health Library

Septicemia

What is septicemia?

Septicemia is the clinical name for blood poisoning. Septicemia that progresses to septic shock has a death rate as high as 50 percent, depending on the type of organism involved. Septicemia is a medical emergency and requires urgent medical treatment.

How does septicemia relate to meningitis

Some bacteria that cause meningitis can also cause septicemia, particularly the meningococcal form. When meningococcus invades the body, it enters from the throat, gets into the bloodstream, and travels through the blood to the meninges.

  • In some cases, the bacteria multiply uncontrollably in the bloodstream, which results in septicemia, before the bacteria can infect the meninges.

  • In other cases, infection in the bloodstream and in the meninges develops at the same time, and these patients develop both septicemia and meningitis.

  • In a minority of cases, the body can stop the bacteria multiplying in the bloodstream, but not in the meninges, and these patients develop meningitis.

What are the symptoms of septicemia?

The following are the most common symptoms of septicemia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

Patients with septicemia often develop a hemorrhagic rash--a cluster of tiny blood spots that look like pin pricks in the skin. If untreated, these gradually get bigger and begin to look like fresh bruises. These bruises then join together to form larger areas of purple skin damage and discoloration.

Septicemia develops very quickly. The patient rapidly becomes very ill, and may:

  • Lose interest in food and surroundings

  • Become feverish

  • Feel cold, with cool hands and feet

  • Become lethargic, anxious, or agitated

  • Experience a coma and sometimes death

Those who become ill more slowly may also develop some of the signs of meningitis. The symptoms of septicemia may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Treatment for septicemia

Specific treatment for septicemia will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the condition

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

Septicemia is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. In most cases, treatment will involve antibiotic medication.

Septicemia - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marcellin, Lindsey, MD
Last Review Date: 2012-06-11T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2012-06-13T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2013-02-04T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

I would like to:

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to www.mywellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×