When a child (or indeed adult) has an infection, the body’s immune system automatically kicks into gear to fight it off. When faced with a viral infection (like a cold or flu) or a bacterial infection (like ‘strep throat’) a child, in particular, may experience symptoms like fever, sore throat, body aches and a headache. In your experience as a childcare practitioner, you will have probably seen these symptoms many times; and know that they are usually manageable; and that a healthy immune response in the child would ensure full recovery within a few days.

When a child (or indeed adult) has an infection, the body’s immune system automatically kicks into gear to fight it off. When faced with a viral infection (like a cold or flu) or a bacterial infection (like ‘strep throat’) a child, in particular, may experience symptoms like fever, sore throat, body aches and a headache. In your experience as a childcare practitioner, you will have probably seen these symptoms many times; and know that they are usually manageable; and that a healthy immune response in the child would ensure full recovery within a few days.

However, on occasion, when the immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection, those particular chemicals can attack normal organs and tissues. This immune overreaction is called sepsis and can cause inflammation, blood flow problems, low blood pressure, breathing problems and vital organ failure. Sepsis in  children – and adults – can be life-threatening.

We know that sepsis is rare – but it can be extremely serious if not treated immediately and much work is still to be done to raise awareness of this potentially fateful infection. If you suspect a child in your care has sepsis, then you should seek medical help immediately, as it could be life-threatening.

Here are the symptoms to look out for in children under five years old

  • Mottled, bluish or pale complexion
  • Very lethargic – or difficult to wake from a nap
  • Abnormally cold to the touch
  • Fast breathing
  • A rash that does not fade when you press it
  • Fit or convulsion

Additional symptoms can include:

  • Temperature over 38oC in babies under three months
  • Temperature over 39oC in babies aged three to six months
  • Any high temperature in a child who cannot be encouraged to show interest in anything
  • Low temperature (below 36oC – check three times in a 10-minute period)

The statistics

Sepsis affects between 27–30 million people each year, and of those, between 6 and 9 million people die as a result. But the most worrying statistic is that sepsis is the most preventable cause of death worldwide. Unfortunately, only between 7% and 50% of people are aware of sepsis globally. This varies, depending on the country and education level, but many are unaware of the simple measures that can be undertaken to prevent it, and many also do not know that the risk of death can be significantly reduced by early recognition of the symptoms and early effective treatment.

The best way to prevent sepsis is to prevent infections in the first place through the use of vaccinations and good hygiene practices – plus for some countries where sanitation is an issue, having access to clean water and hygienic birth situations.

How can we learn more and raise awareness?

September 13th each year is recognised as World Sepsis Day – an initiative formed in 2012 by the Global Sepsis Alliance. You can find so many useful resources on their website, including a toolkit which enables you to run educational sessions for parents and a very informative short video, plus lots of ideas on how to get involved to raise awareness.

On a national level, the UK Sepsis Trust is marking World Sepsis Day with a campaign called Cycle4Sepsis – and is asking the nation to cycle for the duration of the month – either fundraising or just for fun – and this year it’s a virtual challenge for everyone to take part! More information on this can be found here.

Here are some ideas that you can share with parents and on your social media channels:

  • Head out on a cycling picnic, taking care of the social distancing guidance.
  • Go on a cycling ‘treasure hunt’ – round the garden or outdoor space in your setting.
  • Cycle in fancy dress and share your photos online!
  • Cycle food to vulnerable people – again, taking care of the social distancing guidelines.

Here’s what you can do in your setting:

  1. Download the toolkit from www.worldsepsisday.org/toolkits and run an education session for your parents and staff. There is a comprehensive toolkit on the website consisting of information, resources and a “What is sepsis?” video which runs for just 3 minutes, which you can use to get the main messages over.
  2. Sign the Sepsis Declaration and share the link to it on your social media channels asking your parents to sign it too.
  3. Wear pink for the day and tell everyone why you are doing it.
  4. Hold a pink picnic with the children and serve all manner of pink food such as fairy cakes, raspberries, pink grapefruit and watermelon. You can always make some pink bread for sandwiches using some pink food colouring – the children will love it!
  5. Participate in the photo challenge and share your photos on social media using the hashtag #WorldSepsisDay.

Keep parents engaged

Getting involved in World Sepsis Day and Cycle4Sepsis is a great way to keep that all-important engagement going with parents and lets them know that you are aware of and thinking about key health issues.

Why not ask them to send you their photos from their activities so you can upload on to your website, your social media pages or even include in a newsletter?

Download our handy “how to avoid spreading germs in your setting” poster here

For the month of September, get 30% discount on our CPD online learning course for your staff – Infection Prevention Control 

 

Expression of interest

Complete the form below if you are interested in joining our family. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This