Mission: To save lives and reduce hospitalizations by protecting children, families, and communities against influenza.

Flu and Sepsis

How are flu and sepsis related?

Sepsis is the body’s extreme reaction to any type of infection. The flu, which is a viral infection, can cause secondary complications such as sepsis. Sepsis is one of the most common flu complications that requires hospitalization.1

Flu and Sepsis

After four days in ICU, sepsis invaded her body and Kendra’s condition worsened.

Read Kendra's Story

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is the body’s reaction to an uncontrolled infection, which can be bacterial, viral, or fungal in nature. These infections can cause a chain reaction in your body, causing tissue damage, organ failure, and even death. It is critically important to seek immediate medical attention if sepsis is suspected.

Who is at risk for developing sepsis as a secondary complication of flu?

ANYONE, regardless of health status, can fall victim to sepsis. People with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or lung disease, older adults, and young children are especially vulnerable to developing sepsis. 

Flu and Sepsis

Joseph suffered a catastrophic intestinal rupture as a result of H1N1 influenza that caused him to go into shock.

Read Joseph's Story

Symptoms of Sepsis

Flu and sepsis

Confusion or disorientation

Flu and sepsis

Shortness of breath

Flu and sepsis

Rapid heart rate

Flu and sepsis


Flu and sepsis

Shivering or feeling very cold

Flu and sepsis

Extreme pain or discomfort

Flu and sepsis

Clammy or sweaty 

How is sepsis diagnosed and treated?

Healthcare providers use a number of physical findings to diagnose suspected sepsis, including fever, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing. Lab tests may also be used to check for signs of infection or organ damage.

Treatment for sepsis may include the use of antibiotics, oxygen, IV fluids, assisted breathing measures, and/or surgery to remove damaged tissue. 

Sepsis complication in up to 30% of flu-related pediatric deaths

Did you know?

Sepsis or septic shock are listed as complications
in up to
30% of pediatric flu-related deaths.4

Influenza and sepsis

It wasn’t until after Trevor’s death that his physician father realized that his son’s flu infection had led to sepsis.

Read Trevor's Story


The Difference Between Sepsis and Septic Shock

Sepsis can progress to septic shock, which is a life-threatening condition. Septic shock is generally identified by a dramatic drop in blood pressure.


Influenza and Sepsis

Caroline's month-long battle with flu included secondary complications such as pneumonia, severe sepsis, septic shock, and hypoxemia.

Read Caroline's Story

Influenza and Sepsis

Less than 10 hours after arriving at the ER, Ayzlee passed away from septic shock, secondary to influenza.

Read Ayzlee's Story

Influenza and Sepsis

Despite Maya's lowered fever, she wasn't getting better, and in fact, seemed worse - a sign she was going into septic shock.

Read Maya's Story

Influenza and Sepsis

Amiah lost her life just 12 hours after her flu illness led to pneumonia and sepsis.

Read Amiah's Story

Where can I learn more about sepsis?

Page last reviewed: October 2021.

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