Internationally, sepsis has been reported in 15% of all Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients. Even with improvements in health care, the frequency of sepsis continues to increase. It is estimated that 1 in 18 deaths in Canada are related to sepsis, making it the 12th leading cause of death nationally. Although sepsis is not commonly cited as the primary cause of death, it is often a significant contributing factor. Between 2009 and 2011, sepsis was implicated in 53.4% of deaths from infectious diseases, which includes conditions ranging from bacterial intestinal infections to pneumonia.
Many patients diagnosed with sepsis require care in the ICU, placing a considerable burden on the health care system. The total cost of treating sepsis in Canada amounts to $325 million annually. These numbers are equally reflective of the broader problem. A global assessment of the burden of sepsis found that 29.5% of hospital patients had sepsis and a third of this group died from the condition during their stay. Sepsis also remains to be the leading cause of death in Third World countries. It is thought that 3 in 1000 people are affected by sepsis which equates to 18 million people per year. At both the national and international levels, sepsis is undoubtedly a significant strain.
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Is your child at risk?
The following conditions mean that your child is at higher risk:
Stages of neonatal sepsis:
Early onset (up until 72 hours after birth)
Late onset (from 4 to 90 days after birth)
How can you reduce the chance of your child getting neonatal sepsis?
Ensuring that your child has the proper vaccines is the first step towards reducing the likelihood of developing sepsis. The most common childhood diseases are rubella and varicella. Furthermore, close attention to wounds and common infections is critical as they can escalate if left untreated. Finally, paying close attention to general hygiene will diminish the likelihood of developing sepsis.
Why should I be worried about neonatal sepsis?
Sepsis and meningitis are responsible for the most neonatal deaths in developing countries. Around one million neonatal deaths are caused by sepsis/pneumonia annually. Between 1990 and 2015 the global newborn mortality has fallen from 5.1 million to 2.7 million deaths. However, without treatment septic shock in children still has a mortality rate of over 80%. The survival rate is dramatically increased when appropriately diagnosed and treated.
Aboriginals and Effects of Canadian Racial Diversity
There is currently no evidence that sepsis itself has a higher or lower prevalence in Aboriginal populations or any racial population in Canada. However, there is evidence that suggests that Aboriginal populations are more likely to contract certain infections that can lead to sepsis.
For instance, the H1N1 viral infection pandemic of 2009 had a high occurrence in the Canadian Aboriginal population. One study found that a quarter of the study population that contracted H1N1 were Aboriginal.
Aboriginal populations in the Canada prairies and rural Australia are more susceptible to developing a certain infection called MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) that can lead to sepsis. The Australian study suggests that higher standards of housing and hygiene along with appropriate use of antibiotics would be beneficial to the health of this population.
Neonatal early-onset group B streptococcal (GBS) infections can lead to sepsis in babies. It has been shown that Aboriginal babies born in hospitals in Australia were three times more likely to develop sepsis from GBS than non-Aboriginal babies.
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