Nearly all of us are aware about common infectious diseases caused by bacteria, like typhoid, pneumonia, sinusitis, bronchitis, etc. But, what about bacterial infection in blood? Yes, it is a serious medical complication, in which, the disease-causing bacterium spreads to the bloodstream. And the outcome is distribution of bacteria to several body parts, through circulation of blood. In medical terms, this kind of infection, particularly in the bloodstream, is referred to as sepsis.
Infection by bacteria may take place in the skin or internal organs, which slowly make their way to the bloodstream, and cause sepsis. It is to be borne in mind that bacteria are not only the causal reason behind sepsis. All other disease-causing pathogens, namely, fungi and virus can also lead to sepsis by infecting the bloodstream. Thus, to avoid confusion, a blood disorder caused by bacteria is called bacterial sepsis. Some of the probable causes for bacterial sepsis reported in children and adults are highlighted below:
- Cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the skin and underneath layers is a probable cause for bacterial sepsis.
- Entry of Group A streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus through skin cuts and wounds can make their way to the blood.
- In children, infection by Haemophilus influenzae can spread to bloodstream.
- The bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae that cause pneumonia can infect blood.
- Infection by Salmonella species in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to blood infection.
- Infection in the outer layer of the brain (meningitis) can lead to this bacterial infection.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI) by Escherichia coli can spread to the bloodstream.
- Blood infection is also caused by Neisseria meningitidis that attacks the respiratory tract.
- Untreated appendicitis can worsen and cause this infection.
Who are at a Risk?
The after effects and medical conditions of sepsis infection are caused due to the bacteria or the toxins released by them. Although anyone can get this infection, certain groups of people are at a higher risk of developing this medical condition. In simple terms, those whose immune system is not strong enough to fight against invading germs, they have an increased risk of bacterial infection than healthy people. The risk factors for bacterial sepsis are higher in:
- Infants and toddlers, whose immune system is not developed fully.
- Elderly people, having a weak natural defense due to aging process.
- Patients who are currently on strong medication treatment.
- People who have a weakened immune system, but without any underlying disease.
- Patients who are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
- Patients of cancer or HIV/AIDS, who have a compromised immune system.
Since bacterial strains invade the bloodstream in a septic patient, they are circulated to the body cells and tissues during blood circulation. They may invade any weak organ inside the body causing organ dysfunction. If an individual is diagnosed with bacterial infection in the blood, it is understandable that the case is of a severe infection. The noticeable symptoms are, fever, vomiting, inflammation, and body pain. In case of any suspected patient, blood test is conducted for the presence of bacteria and white blood cell count.
The prognosis is determined with respect to the extent of bacterial invasion, host defense responses, stage of diagnosis, and the treatment methods. In addition to advocating a full course of antibiotics, further treatment approaches may be considered according to the severity of the condition. According to medical data, the number of fatalities caused by sepsis have doubly increased in the last two decades. Nevertheless, in case of early diagnosis, bacterial sepsis can be treated with the help of antibiotics.