Sepsis, a condition caused by infections leading to multiple organ failure, is among the leading causes of deaths in India – killing more people than AIDS or cancer, say experts.

Awareness to the fatal condition, however, remains low, say doctors.

Sepsis or septicaemia is “body`s reaction to infection”, said Vivek Nangia, director, infectious diseases, at Delhi`s Fortis Hospital.

It is a condition in which bacteria make toxins that cause the body`s immune system to attack organs and tissues.

“Any infection in any part of body may cause sepsis,” warned Nangia.

“Every hour, about 36 people die from sepsis. It causes more deaths than prostate cancer, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. Globally, an estimated 18 million cases of sepsis occur each year,” said Rajesh Chawla, vice-chancellor of the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine (ISCCM), Delhi.

ISCCM, along with Global Sepsis Alliance, is organising a programme to spread awareness on Sepsis Thursday, marking the World Sepsis Day.

“Sepsis is quite a common cause of deaths. It is the third commonest cause resulting in death across the world, and in India it is probably the leading cause,” observed Nangia.

Chawla said that although Sepsis was one of the most serious medical conditions, there was a tremendously low awareness among people, including medical professionals.

According to a recent Indian Intensive Care Case Mix and Practice Patterns study, one out of two patients who develop Sepsis die.

Nangia added that hospital picked infections which cause the disease might also be related to multi-drug resistant bacteria.

“When the infection is picked up in hospitals, it can be associated with the multi-drug resistant bacteria,” he said, adding that there was a strict guideline on how to treat patients after detection of Sepsis.

“The patient has to be admitted and within first two hours, first shot of anti-biotic has to be given. After that detailed culture tests have to be done,” he says.

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