When 20-year-old Brazilian model Mariana Bridi da Costa died last Saturday from septicemia, we were scared. Can anyone get this disease? What are the symptoms? Better yet, what is it?
Septicemia is another name for blood poisoning and occurs when bacteria spreads into the bloodstream due to an infection. In da Costa’s case, her urinary tract infection progressed into the disease and prevented sufficient blood flow to her organs. Doctors had to amputate both arms and legs because her limbs weren’t receiving enough oxygen.
Even though it’s the 10th leading cause of deaths in the U.S., very little is known about the disease or what causes it. But doctors do know what happens once the patient develops septicemia.
One of the most common symptoms is a hemorrhagic rash—small blood spots that cluster together and grow if left untreated. Over time these purple bruises join together to create large patches of damaged skin. The person might also get a fever, chills, develop a rapid heart beat or respiration, get lethargic or anxious, lose interest in food or go into a coma, which can eventually lead to death.
Septic shock can bring about decreased body temperatures and blood pressure as well as confusion. Unfortunately, it also comes with an over 50% death rate if a severe disease accompanies it. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to any symptoms and seek medical help before the person goes into shock as septicemia can progress rather quickly.
People with a weak immune system, such as babies and the elderly, are more at risk of developing the disease. And patients with burns, cardiac, liver and kidney problems and diabetes are also more susceptible of getting septicemia.
Lower your chances of developing septicemia by treating smaller
infections before they grow into something more serious. Take
antibiotics and medications exactly as prescribed and continue taking
your dosages even if you think the infection is long gone.
To treat the patient, doctors will keep her in an intensive care unit to administer oxygen, IV fluids and antibiotics to treat the infection.