Septicemia / Sepsis
Causes and Risk Factors
People with decreased immunity are at a particular risk for developing sepsis.
Septicemia or sepsis is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. The infection is usually located in a particular tissue or organ and then spreads to the blood. The infection may also enter the body during an intravenous injection or a surgical procedure. People with decrease in immunity are unable to fight against the invading organisms and are particularly susceptible to sepsis. People at increased risk to develop sepsis include:
People suffering from conditions like AIDS and diabetes, liver disease and kidney failure
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation
Patients who have undergone organ transplantation and are receiving drugs to suppress immunity
Very small babies in whom the immune system has not completely developed
People who have undergone surgery to remove the spleen. The spleen plays a role in producing immune cells; hence absence of the spleen can result in decreased immunity.
Patients taking high doses of corticosteroids.
Patients with infections like meningitis and cellulitis
After major surgery, trauma and burns
A number of cases of sepsis are caused by gram negative bacteria. These bacteria include E coli, Enterobacter, Klebsiella and Pseudomonas aeroginosa. Gram negative bacteria contain a component called lipopolysaccharide in their cell membrane. This part is particularly responsible for the effects of sepsis. Sepsis caused by gram negative bacteria especially Pseudomonas aeruginosa often has serious consequences including death.