LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Sepsis is a life-threatening complication of an infection and the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Only 35% of U.S. adults have heard of it, let alone know what it is. Dr. Brianna Shaffer with Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Lafayette says, “You can be the healthiest person on the planet and still develop sepsis.”

It’s severe strike to the body can cause multi organ disfunction and failure. Dr. Shaffer says sepsis can be caused by a number of different things. Typically developing from a general infection. “The most common being viral illnesses, bacterial illnesses, parasites and fungi can cause patients to develop an infection,” said Schaffer

Anyone can develop sepsis. However, small children, the elderly and patients with pre-existing disorders like diabetes, hypertension, underlying cardiovascular disease, and patients who are immunocompromised have a higher risk of developing sepsis.

Sepsis can also be detrimental to pregnant moms and their unborn baby. “Sepsis can affect a growing fetus depending on how far along the pregnancy is. The most serious being death for mother and/or the baby,” says Dr. Schaffer.

When looking out for sepsis patients you should refer to the mnemonic T.I.M.E. Pay close attention to your temperature, infection, mental status and illness. Anyone can prevent sepsis by washing your hands with soap and water several times a day for 20 seconds. Avoid unnecessary contact with people who are sick or infected and staying up to date on your vaccines.

If you suspect you are sick or have a general infection, reach out to your doctor as soon as possible.

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