Sepsis is not contagious, although some contagious infections can lead to sepsis. Some infections are more likely to result in sepsis, and certain people are at higher risk of developing it than others.

Sepsis is an extreme and dysfunctional immune response to infection. The condition usually occurs due to bacterial infections but may also be due to viral or fungal infections.

If someone with sepsis does not receive prompt treatment, they may be at risk of organ failure, tissue damage, or death.

This article explores whether sepsis is contagious and the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of sepsis.

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Sepsis is not contagious and cannot spread from one person to another. However, people can spread certain infections to others, which may lead to sepsis.

Sepsis is not an infection or an infectious disease. Rather, it is an overreaction of the immune system in response to an infection.

Sepsis most commonly occurs in response to bacterial infections, which can begin in the:

An extreme immune system response to an infection can cause the body to attack healthy organs and tissues mistakenly. This may lead to organ damage and, in severe cases, death.

While a person cannot spread sepsis, they may spread the germs that cause infection, which can trigger sepsis.

Some types of bacteria are more likely than others to result in sepsis. These include:

Certain groups of people are more likely than others to develop sepsis. These include:

  • people aged 75 and older
  • babies younger than 1 year
  • babies born prematurely
  • babies whose birthing parent had an infection while pregnant
  • people who have recently given birth, had an abortion, or had a miscarriage
  • individuals who have diabetes
  • those with a weakened immune system
  • people who have recently undergone surgery
  • individuals who have recently had a serious illness

The symptoms of sepsis can include:

Without treatment, the sepsis symptoms can progress toward severe sepsis and septic shock.

If this occurs, a person may experience organ damage, hypotension, multiple organ failure, or death.

Sepsis requires prompt treatment, as delays to treatment can harm a person’s outlook. Doctors will administer rapid, urgent treatment to try and prevent sepsis from progressing to a more severe stage.

To treat sepsis, a doctor may:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person can take several steps to help reduce their risk of developing sepsis.

These steps include:

  • practicing appropriate hand hygiene
  • ensuring they are up to date on all recommended vaccines to help prevent infections that may lead to sepsis
  • keeping cuts clean and covered until they have fully healed
  • monitoring and treating current health conditions
  • being aware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis to help seek treatment and prevent the condition from reaching more severe stages
  • seeking immediate, urgent medical attention if sepsis occurs to prevent the condition from progressing

Below are answers to common questions about sepsis.

How long does it take to die from sepsis?

The time it takes for sepsis to cause death varies.

Around half of people who develop septic shock will die. One study found that early death, which occurs within 48 hours of hospitalization, was common in people with sepsis and septic shock.

What is the most common cause of sepsis?

The most common cause of sepsis is bacterial infections. Most people who develop sepsis also have at least one comorbid condition, such as chronic lung disease.

Can sepsis spread through saliva?

No, a person cannot spread sepsis through saliva or any other bodily fluid, as it is not a transmissible disease. Sepsis is not contagious, although someone may spread an infection that may lead to sepsis.

Sepsis is not contagious, as it is not a transmissible disease. Rather, sepsis is a dysfunctional immune response the body may produce when a person develops an infection.

Some of the infections that may trigger sepsis can be contagious. A person may spread bacteria, such as E. coli., that can lead to sepsis.

Certain groups of people may be at higher risk of developing sepsis than others, including babies younger than 1 year and those older than 75 years.

People can take steps to prevent sepsis, such as practicing appropriate hand hygiene and vaccinating against infections that could lead to sepsis.