septicemia

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septicemia

(sĕptĭsē`mēə), invasion of the bloodstream by virulent bacteria that multiply and discharge their toxic products. The disorder, which is serious and sometimes fatal, is commonly known as blood poisoning. The invasive organisms are usually streptococcistreptococcus
, any of a group of gram-positive bacteria, genus Streptococcus, some of which cause disease. Streptococci are spherical and divide by fission, but they remain attached and so grow in beadlike chains.
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 or staphylococcistaphylococcus
, any of the pathogenic bacteria, parasitic to humans, that belong to the genus Staphylococcus. The spherical bacterial cells (cocci) typically occur in irregular clusters [Gr. staphyle=bunch of grapes].
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 but may be any type of bacteria. Septicemia occurs most often in older people who have underlying disease that makes them more susceptible to the infection. The primary causes of septicemia are infection within the walls of the blood vessels, rapidly progressing tissue infections (osteomyelitis, cellulitis), virulent systemic disease (meningitis, typhoid), and local infections (abscess, carbuncle) that the defense mechanisms of the body are unable to contain. The microorganisms usually spread to other organs, such as the lungs, liver, and brain.

Symptoms of septicemia are fever (usually quite high), chills, low blood pressure, confusion, and rash; it often results in multiple organ failure if not treated promptly with antibiotics. The diagnosis can be confirmed with blood cultures for the organism or with blood tests for antibodies or high levels of white blood cells.

See also toxemiatoxemia
, disease state caused by the presence in the blood of bacterial toxins or other harmful substances. The effects of the bacterial toxins known as endotoxins are relatively uniform, regardless of which bacterial species the toxin comes from, and are separate from the
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; toxic shock syndrometoxic shock syndrome
(TSS). acute, sometimes fatal, disease characterized by high fever, nausea, diarrhea, lethargy, blotchy rash, and sudden drop in blood pressure. It is caused by Staphylococcus aureus,
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.

septicemia

[‚sep·tə′sē·mē·ə]
(medicine)
A clinical syndrome in which infection is disseminated through the body in the bloodstream. Also known as blood poisoning.

septicaemia

(US), septicemia
a condition caused by pus-forming microorganisms in the blood