What is sepsis? Doctors explain - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

What is sepsis? Doctors explain

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WATERLOO (KWWL) - The deadly flu virus has been consuming headlines across the country, with its latest victim being a 26-year-old newlywed from Wisconsin.

The flu has also claimed the lives of three children in Iowa, ranging in ages from three to 14. However, it's not just influenza we are hearing about; sepsis is also being blamed for taking lives.

Two of the three Iowa children who died from the flu also contracted sepsis, and so did the woman in Wisconsin.

Doctors say sepsis is an infection, and complication that can come from viruses like the flu and also from bacterial illnesses.

Dr. Tim Horrigan says sepsis, however, is no ordinary infection.

"The infection that overwhelms an organ or body system so they have, for instance, low blood pressure, low kidney function."

It has the capability of taking over organs, including the lungs, liver and heart, forcing the entire body to feel the effect.

Dr.  Horrigan sees roughly six to eight cases of sepsis a month. He says it's not common, but yet, can be fatal. He watches his sick patients closely for signs of sepsis, which can include weakness, low responsiveness, cold skin, low urine output and abnormal circulation.

Underlying conditions can increase one's risk to contract sepsis, conditions such as diabetes, asthma or abnormal blood pressure.

Doctors say the flu virus can give way to sepsis, and unfortunately, is proving to be deadly this flu season.

"I think we're hearing more about sepsis just because the influenza season seemed to hit harder than average this year," Dr. Horrigan said.

According to doctors, sepsis isn't preventable. Dr. Horrigan gives the same advice he would for anyone who might be sick: stay hydrated, and keep a close eye on your body.
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