While you’ve probably heard about sepsis, you might be wondering what causes it.

Sepsis can’t be passed on to another person but it is “life-threatening” for those who do develop it.

Here’s what we know about sepsis, including what causes it and who can get it.

What causes sepsis?

The NHS website explains that sepsis is a reaction to an infection that is “life-threatening”.

Sepsis occurs when a person’s “immune system overreacts to an infection”. It begins to damage the body’s tissues and organs.

Who can get sepsis?

Anyone who has an infection can develop sepsis but some people are more likely to get sepsis, including:

  • Babies under the age of one, particularly those who were born premature or if their mum had an infection during her pregnancy.
  • People over the age of 75 or those with diabetes are also more likely to get sepsis.
  • People who have recently had surgery or a serious illness or have a weakened immune system (for example, people having chemotherapy treatment or those who have had an organ transplant recently).
  • Those who have a genetic disorder that affects the immune system, including Down’s Syndrome and sickle cell disease.
  • Women who have had an abortion or miscarriage or have just given birth.

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The NHS adds: “If you're more likely to get an infection that could lead to sepsis and you become unwell, get medical help as soon as you can. Let the medical team know about any conditions you have or reasons why you might be more at risk.

“You cannot catch sepsis from another person. It happens when your body overreacts to an infection.”

You can find out more about sepsis via the NHS website.