Krakow, Warsaw sigh in relief: No sepsis epidemic

A 16-year-old girl from Warsaw and two men, 21 and 47, from Radom are the most recent fatalities due to sepsis.
In October this illness also attacked patients in the delivery ward of a Krakow hospital. Fortunately, there were no casualties. And doctors have assured the public that there is no epidemic.
“”In the 80s there were a few hundred cases of (sepsis) sickness each year and about 80 to 100 people annually died from sepsis,”” Dr. Piotr Stefanow told Wiadomosci24 (News24). “”Recently, this number has increased, mainly because new kinds of the germs have appeared.””

“”In Poland we see about 300 cases of sepsis each year,”” he added.
According to the experts, sepsis isn’t a new illness. It is caused by a bacterium called meningococcus. It has been called “”blood infection”” or “”blood poisoning”” because the germs may be found in the blood of the victims.

Up to 25 percent of the human population may be carrying some of these bacteria, but sepsis cases are exceptionally rare.
“”The doctors in Poland are prepared to diagnose and cure sepsis,”” Dr. Stefanow said. But he said the case of the 16-year-old girl in Warsaw could be an exception because the sepsis was not promptly diagnosed.

The public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the death. According to the girl’s mother, doctors diagnosed the sepsis too late and that’s why she died.

“”It started with a cold,”” the mother said. “”Then she had high fever, vomiting and bloody skin eruptions. The doctors gave her a liquid drip feed with electrolytes. But her organs didn’t react to the antibiotic and she soon died.””

On Nov. 20, Silesia began mandatory inoculation of 8,000 children against germs which can cause the sepsis.
“”Reports of sepsis in Piekary Slaskie are eight times higher than in other parts of Poland. That’s why we have decided on that action,”” said Anna Poplawska , director of the Center Against Epidemics in Bytom.

The action won’t be repeated in other Polish cities. According to Dr. Stefanow, there is no need for mandatory inoculations in the entire country.
“”This medical action (inoculation) isn’t against the sepsis; it is only against one kind of meningococcus.”” he said.
Sepsis is a complex illness in which the body “”overreacts”” to an infection. Normally, the body’s response to an infection is targeted to the site of the infection.

With sepsis, the immune system sets off a chain reaction to fight the infection. The body’s response, instead of being localized to the site of infection, causes symptoms to occur throughout the body (this is known as a systemic response).

Between 33 percent and 50 percent of patients who develop severe sepsis die from the condition. Sepsis is not contagious. Meningococci are not able to survive outside the human organism more than a few minutes. That’s why we can’t become ill just by being near an infected person in school, at home or on planes.

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