10 April 2024

​​​​​A new campaign is encouraging people to ask frontline healthcare workers, ‘Could it be sepsis?’ if they or a loved one are showing signs and symptoms of the potentially deadly condition which occurs when the body has an extreme response to an infection.

Minister for Health Ryan Park said sepsis is very serious and it is important to act quickly.

“Sepsis can affect anyone and I want people to seek help without delay if they, or their loved one, is very unwell, even if they have recently been seen by a doctor or other medical professional,” Mr Park said.

“In Australia at least 55,000 people develop sepsis each year and more than 8,000 of them die from sepsis-related complications.

“That’s why it’s important people aren’t afraid and are empowered, to ask, ‘Could it be sepsis?’ because early treatment can be lifesaving,” he said.

Paediatric Specialist Dr Matthew O’Meara said a person with sepsis often reports feeling the sickest they have ever felt.

“We want people to pay close attention to the symptoms, and seek urgent medical care if symptoms get worse,” Dr O’Meara said.

“You may only have some of the symptoms of sepsis, and features can initially be subtle.

“We urge people to trust their instincts, especially parents who are the experts in their child’s behaviour.”

Dr O’Meara said sepsis can be caused by any type of infection, including bacterial, viral and fungal, and those infections can be anywhere in the body.

There are many possible signs and symptoms of sepsis, and they include getting very sick very quickly, difficulty breathing, confusion, a rash or blue, grey, pale or blotchy skin.

Symptoms to look out for in young children that may indicate severe illness include being quieter or sleepier than normal or difficult to wake, irritability, high-pitched crying, refusal to eat/feed, fewer wet nappies, cold or mottled limbs and difficulty breathing.

If you or the person you care for is seriously unwell call 000 or go to your local Emergency Department. If you are concerned about your or your child’s health call your GP or Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

Further information is available on NSW Health - Sepsis and the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network – S​igns of serious illness in children.