Professor Simon Finfer , of The George Institute and head of the Australian Sepsis Network, said that whilst sepsis was often difficult to detect, it can be prevented and treated successfully if diagnosed quickly. For those that survive, half are left with a disability or impaired function that also impacts their family and friends.
Korina Valentine, who became a quadruple amputee in after contracting sepsis, welcomed the report. I was healthy and enjoying life as a mum of three when I contracted it and it very nearly killed me. But, just as vitally we need to ensure that our GPs, hospitals and its staff are equipped to recognise sepsis early and start treatment as soon as possible. They have since set up a charity Reaching4Korina to help other survivors.
Skip to main content. Sepsis - the silent killer Media release:. Sepsis is known as the silent killer and takes more lives than the annual road toll. More than 50 percent of sepsis deaths in children occur within 24 hours so it is essential parents are aware of early symptoms and seek urgent medical care. Providing more community and peer support for survivors of sepsis and their families.
Many are left with horrendous life-changing conditions, including amputation and PTSD. Establishing a nationally recognised clinical standard of care for sepsis detection and treatment, and improve in hospital care by establishing dedicated sepsis teams. Setting up a national sepsis body to drive and co-ordinate research, to measure the true incidence of sepsis by improving reporting, and to introduce alert systems in hospitals across Australia to ensure treatment starts as early as possible. After a week, Ganjanarak was sicker than ever. He just kept getting worse.
It took until mid-March, more than a month after Ganjanarak first became ill, for the blood cultures to return the answer. Despite living nearly all his life in the part of the world where it is most prevalent, Ganjanarak had never heard of melioidosis. Neither had most of his friends.
She reckons that only about 2 per cent of people in Ubon Ratchathani know what it is. To Suntornsut, this reflects the official attitude towards melioidosis. Another problem is the disease-reporting system in Thailand. After World War II, Limmathurotsakul says, the government wanted a method to discover and contain cholera outbreaks. At first, all it took was a phone call to the Ministry of Public Health to have people sent to investigate. Over the next 60 years, however, more and more diseases were added to the list—the current total is We will report.
We need the data to tell the people in the country.
Whether panic of influenza, panic of bird flu, Ebola, cholera… whatever panic of this year, they will say, OK, this year this is the priority. It also tends to affect poor, rural rice farmers in Thailand, another strike against it in terms of getting official attention. Across the border in Laos and Cambodia, there are similar challenges.
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The ultimate outcome is that melioidosis is vastly underreported, both in south east Asia and elsewhere around the world. Physicians have reported cases in Brazil and across Africa—cases not linked to travel, which means the sick person must have picked it up in their own backyard. Limmathurotsakul and David Dance , a British doctor working on melioidosis in Laos, suspect this represents only a fraction of the disease burden, since melioidosis looks like so many other tropical diseases and remains difficult to diagnose.
And the burden looks set to increase due to two factors in particular: climate change and diabetes. Across the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka, infectious disease physician Enoka Corea put a call out to her colleagues to be on the lookout for melioidosis cases a decade ago. For the first few years, they found only a case or two. Now, the trickle has become a steady stream.
The effects of climate change are already beginning to be felt in Australia. Climate models predict that more parts of the country will become hospitable for melioidosis.
Rising numbers of people with diabetes will likely push the melioidosis numbers even higher. Although no one knows exactly why, diabetes increases the risk of developing melioidosis, and seems to make it more likely that someone will develop more serious forms of the illness, such as sepsis or pneumonia, that increase the chance of dying from it. Even as his colleagues were predicting rises in melioidosis cases, Limmathurotsakul was struggling to convince his own government to document the current disease burden. Everywhere he went, he found a different type of resistance.
At the bottom level, they lacked time and resources, or feared that their higher-ups would think they had made a mistake by not reporting all these cases sooner. The process involved years of meetings with government officials, from the staffs of small community hospitals to the head of the Ministry of Public Health. At the same time, Limmathurotsakul and his team began to gather data and develop computer models to estimate the true disease burden. In , they published the first ever global estimate of melioidosis prevalence, and the numbers were far higher than anyone anticipated.
Their work showed that approximately , people develop melioidosis each year and 89, of them die as a result.
Importantly, their work revealed overlooked melioidosis hotspots outside of South-east Asia, including India and Sri Lanka. In Ubon Ratchathani province alone, estimates of melioidosis prevalence surged from 4.
As more hospitals report more cases, Limmathurotsakul hopes it will encourage other hospitals to step up their game, too. He also hopes the data will spur new research. Stopping melioidosis will require more than just data. While others have their eyes on the long-term development of a vaccine or the construction of new health facilities, Limmathurotsakul says less splashy initiatives are needed, like providing safe drinking water. In Ubon Ratchathani, Pornpan Suntornsut and her team are trying possibly the simplest approach of all.
Most work barefoot. Arriving in the midday tropical heat, I quickly understand why. Sweat instantly begins oozing from my pores. In less than five minutes, I am drenched, my hair plastered to my forehead.