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When you hear about someone dying from flu, or flu-related illness, in most cases they’ve died from sepsis according to the Chair of Queensland’s Statewide Sepsis Steering Committee.
Professor Bala Venkatesh said sepsis killed more adults across Queensland than breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined, and more than road traffic accidents.
“Queensland hospitals treated more than 20,000 people for sepsis in 2017-18 and more than 2,000 died from the disease,” Professor Venkatesh said.
“Sepsis is a life-threatening illness which occurs when the body’s own response to an infection damages its tissues and organs.
“It is a medical emergency and needs immediate treatment. The sooner treatment starts, the better the outcomes are likely to be.
“Sepsis can result in death, or permanent disability from amputations, or brain damage.”
Queensland is the first jurisdiction in Australia to launch a public sepsis awareness campaign.
Sepsis can be difficult to diagnose as symptoms can easily be confused with those of common illnesses such as gastroenteritis or the flu.
Professor Venkatesh said 2018 sepsis admissions in Queensland public hospitals were 18 percent higher than 2016.
Symptoms of sepsis can vary, which is why it’s vital to know what to look out for and when to seek help.
“It is important to recognise when an infection could be progressing to a more severe illness,” he said.
“Make it a priority to know the signs of sepsis.
“If in doubt, ask a medical professional: Could this be sepsis?”
Signs and symptoms of sepsis:
Adults should seek urgent medical advice if they have any one of the following symptoms:
If you think it could be sepsis, don’t wait – seek urgent medical advice by calling 000 or presenting to a hospital emergency department and ask: Could this be sepsis?
Children - Sepsis can progress more rapidly in young children and infants.
Call 000, or present to a hospital emergency department and ask Could this be sepsis? if your child shows any one of the following:
Hospital and Health Service 2016 2017 2018
Cairns and Hinterland 1,247 1,387 1,408
Central Queensland 820 854 1,015
Central West 30 28 54
Children’s Health Queensland 436 342 352
Darling Downs 855 1,063 1,297
Gold Coast 1,292 1,700 1,877
Mackay 598 801 815
Mater Public Hospitals 724 727 775
Metro North 3,441 3,749 3,881
Metro South 3,173 3,399 3,560
North West 155 205 228
South West 51 58 79
Sunshine Coast 1,411 1,581 1,636
Torres and Cape 81 79 128
Townsville 1,280 1,303 1,211
West Moreton 1,093 1,154 1,230
Wide Bay 988 1,086 1,314
Queensland 17,675 19,516 20,860