Each year in the U.S., more than 1.5 million people get sepsis, and at least 250,000 Americans die as a result. CDC’s Get Ahead of Sepsis education effort encourages patients and caregivers to prevent infections that lead to sepsis and seek immediate medical care if they suspect sepsis.

Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection. It is life-threatening, and without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

Anyone can get an infection, and almost any infection can lead to sepsis. Certain people are at higher risk including: adults 65 or older; people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and kidney disease; people with weakened immune systems; and children younger than one.

CDC’s Get Ahead of Sepsis encourages patients and families to:

  • Talk to their doctor or nurse about steps they can take to prevent infections. Some steps include taking good care of chronic conditions and getting recommended vaccines.
  • Practice good hygiene, such as handwashing, and keeping cuts clean until healed.
  • Know the symptoms of sepsis.
  • ACT FAST. Get medical care IMMEDIATELY if they suspect sepsis or have an infection that’s not getting better or is getting worse.

To support patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals, CDC provides educational materials and resources including fact sheets, brochures, infographics, a new public service announcement, and a video about “Four Ways to Get Ahead of Sepsis.”