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Updated February 20, 2007

Definition: Septicemia is an infection of the blood often caused by bacteria. Sometimes known as blood poisoning, the bacteria in the blood release toxins than can have a serious impact on many organ systems. Signs include fever, shaking chills, and heavy sweating. Septicemia often occurs in patients with poor immune systems.

Two or more of the following conditions are necessary for septicemia (sepsis) to be diagnosed:

  • Body Temperature > 100.4 or < 96.8
  • respiratory rate > 20 breaths per minute
  • white cell count > 12,000 or < 4000
Also Known As: blood poisoning, sepsis, SIRS (Systematic Inflammatory Response Syndrome)

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