Sepsis – what you need to know?

Sepsis, the silent killer


If you happened to tune in to Sounds of Stoke this Wednesday, you might have heard me discussing the infectious disease sepsis and talking to the father of 2 yr-old Oscar Shonau who, after contracting sepsis, died in November of last year.

This Sunday will see the first Memorial day in tribute to Oscar, raising money for the Donna Louise Trust. The event also aims to raise awareness of Sepsis in children and all ages.

Oscar’s father, Rob Schonau, joined me in the studio to talk about Oscar, sepsis and the Memorial day.

Speaking for the first time on radio since the loss of his son, Rob spoke of the lack of awareness around Sepsis and how more needs to be done to help people understand the infection and what to look for.

Sepsis is “a life-threatening illness caused by your body’s response to an infection.

Your immune system protects you from many illnesses and infections, but it’s also possible for it to go into overdrive in response to an infection. … Severe cases of sepsis can lead to septic shock, which is a medical emergency.” Healthline UK

Only recently has this illness been given greater coverage, and with the symptoms resembling other, perhaps more minor, conditions it is not always clear or straight forward to diagnose.

The symptoms can vary from case to case, and depending on age.  However in children under five according, to NHS guidance , initial symptoms include:

  • looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • feels abnormally cold to touch
  • is breathing very fast
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • has a fit or convulsion

It is advised that, should your child have any of these symptoms, you go straight to your A & E or call 999 immediately.

If they are showing signs of irregular breathing, temperatures (high/low), eating then get medical advice from the NHS 111 medical support line.

In older children, usually over 5, symptoms can include shivering, fast breathing and fast heartbeat.

Caught early, before it has affected vital organs, sepsis can be treated with antibiotics, and recovery from early stages can be fairly quick depending on other factors such as overall health and severity of condition.

Sepsis affects around 123,000 people a year in the UK, with up to 37,000 dying from the condition. Anyone can develop sepsis after an injury or infection but some people are more at risk than others due to health and age.

As Oscar’s father spoke about his (and Oscar’s mother Lynette’s) tragic loss, the need for greater awareness of this silent illness does need far greater coverage and an event such as The Oscar Shonau Memorial Trophy and Funday is a step in the right direction.

The event takes place this Sunday 16th July 2017 from 1.30pm at Norton Cricket Club, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent.

Click here for links to more information about sepsis.



Sources: NHS, Healthline, NICE.