More Than a Boo-Boo: What to Look For When It Comes to Childhood Sepsis

Thank you to Orange Park Medical Center for helping families be well and educating about pediatric sepsis.

Each year more than 3 million children around the world die from sepsis, the body’s overwhelming response to an infection or injury, making it the largest killer of children around the globe. As summertime is approaching, a time when scrapes and injuries tend to happen, Orange Park Medical Center is stepping up to help spread awareness and educate parents.

Dr. Mark McCollum, Pediatric Surgeon at Orange Park Medical Center says recognizing the symptoms can be tough. Many symptoms mimic your typical cold or flu. Dr. McCollum recommends reviewing the signs and symptoms, and if your child develops two or more, immediately contact your pediatrician or bring the child into the emergency room
for evaluation.

Symptoms of Sepsis

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever or low temperature (newborns and infants may have low temperature)
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Feeling cold/cold hands and feet
  • Clammy and pale skin
  • Confusion, dizziness or disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Decrease in urine output

Causes & How To Avoid Sepsis

The most common infections that can cause neonatal sepsis (birth up to 3 months) are RSV, E. Coli, Herpes and Listeria. Children living with a compromised immune system from illnesses such as cancer or serious heart defects can put other children at a higher risk.

Dr. McCollum says the best way to avoid sepsis is to practice good hand hygiene, keep scrapes and cuts clean, and most importantly keep your child’s vaccinations up to date.

When in doubt, call your physician. If your physician is unavailable and your child’s skin is abnormally cold, they are acting lethargic or have difficulty waking up or walking call 9-1-1 or visit an emergency room.

Sepsis Risk in New or Expectant Moms

Dr. Jade Pizarro, an OBGYN at Orange Park Medical Center encourages expecting or new moms to also be on the lookout for themselves when it comes to sepsis. Expectant or postpartum moms can be at risk for sepsis up to six weeks after delivery. Common conditions that can lead to sepsis during pregnancy are urinary tract infections and
pneumonia, which is most common during flu season.

Sepsis can also occur following the below events if an infection is not treated quickly:

  • Miscarriages
  • Induced abortions
  • Cesarean births
  • Prolonged or obstructed labor
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Infection following vaginal delivery
  • Mastitis

Dr. Pizarro says the symptoms for moms are extreme pain or as some describe “the worst pain you’ve ever felt,” discolored or pale skin, sleepiness or difficulty to arouse, confusion and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing symptoms of maternal sepsis it is important to contact your OBGYN as soon as possible.

Orange Park Medical Center is the only hospital in Clay County and one of two in the Jacksonville area that is certified by the Joint Commission for sepsis care.

About Orange Park Medical Center

Orange Park Medical Center, serving Clay County and its surrounding communities, is a full-service, acute care hospital with 317 inpatient beds. Orange Park Medical Center is a Joint Commission Top-Performing Hospital, ranked as one of the best hospitals in the country for heart, lung and surgical care.

For more information about services, facilities and physicians, please visit For more information about Sepsis visit


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