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What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening infection of the bloodstream by toxin-producing bacteria, which can develop anywhere in the body. Sepsis can accompany meningitis, or infections of the bone in hospitalized patients, via intravenous lines, surgical wounds or breaks in the skin. In sepsis, blood pressure drops, resulting in shock. Major organs and systems stop functioning normally.


Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Hyperventilation
  • Warm Skin
  • Shaking
  • Skin rash
  • Decreased urine output


Confirmed by blood culture positive for bacteria, a white blood cell count too high or low, other laboratory tests. 


Requires prompt intravenous treatment with a “broad spectrum” intravenous antibiotic. The original source of the infection must be identified and then treated with the appropriate antibiotics.

Sepsis Treatment at Hopkins Children’s

Sepsis is treated by our Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases.