Pa. Department of Health: Look out for signs, symptoms of sepsis amid COVID-19 pandemic


The health department said about 80% of sepsis deaths can be prevented with quick diagnosis and treatment

Health, Medical Generic

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN) – The Pennsylvania Department of Health wants to raise public awareness about sepsis, a blood infection that’s seen as the most common complication in severe COVID-19 cases.

“Sepsis was among the most common reasons for hospitalization in the state last year,” Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “As we have become better at addressing sepsis, we have seen hospitalizations and mortality rates decrease. It is essential that health care providers, public health and loved ones all are aware of the seriousness of sepsis, and what should be done if you think you have this serious infection.”

Sepsis attacks the body’s tissues and organs, leading to tissue damage, organ failure or death if untreated.

Since sepsis can occur after an infection in the lungs, the health department said it’s the most common complication observed in severe COVID-19 cases.

According to a study by the Sepsis Alliance, one-third of adults know that sepsis is a COVID-19 complication.

About 270,000 people die from sepsis every year. The health department said about 80% of these deaths can be prevented with quick diagnosis and treatment.

“Even though we are making progress in battling sepsis, there is still a lot of work to be done,” Dr. Levine said. “We are continuously working to find ways to increase awareness and treatment of this disease, which is why it is essential that all hospitals have evidence-based protocols in place. We are committed to protecting the health and well-being of all residents by continuing to create a greater public understanding about this disease, while encouraging individuals to advocate for and self-educate about key preventive strategies to combat sepsis.”

The health department said there are four ways to get ahead of the disease:

  • Prevent infections – talk to your doctor or nurse about the proper steps you can take to prevent infections that can lead to sepsis. It is essential that you take good care of chronic conditions and get the recommended vaccines.
  • Practice good hygiene – remember to wash your hands and keep cuts clean and covered until they are healed.
  • Know the signs and symptoms – it is imperative that you are aware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis. Signs may include a high heart rate or a fever, shivering or feeling very cold. Symptoms of sepsis may include a combination of feeling confused or disoriented, having shortness of breath, being in extreme pain, or having clammy or sweaty skin.
  • Act fast – get medical care immediately if you think you have sepsis or have an infection that is not getting better or is getting worse.

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