Hesperian Health Guides


Sepsis is when an infection spreads to the bloodstream. It is dangerous because it can lead to shock. If you suspect sepsis, get medical help quickly and treat the person on the way.

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Signs of sepsis
  • Fever or too low temperature
  • Fast heart rate — pulse is more than 90 beats per minute
  • Fast breathing — more than 20 breaths per minute
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Splotchy or pale skin
  • Less urine
  • Confusion or losing consciousness
  • Low blood pressure

The most important signs are fever or too low temperature, fast heart rate, and fast breathing. If the person has 2 or more of these signs, treat for sepsis.


Get medical help. On the way:

  • Watch for and treat any signs of shock.
  • Give ceftriaxone, OR ciprofloxacin plus clindamycin.
  • Clean any infected wounds, remove dead skin, and if you know how, drain abscesses of pus.
  • If the person is breathing well, give fluids to drink. Give
    small sips frequently.

This page was updated:05 Feb 2020