Mayo based Fianna Fáil Senator, Keith Swanick, has called for a nationwide awareness campaign to highlight the signs, symptoms and dangers of sepsis.
Senator Swanick referred to the story of Karen and Joe Hughes, who lost their 15-year-old son Sean last year to sepsis. They have been trying to raise awareness of the illness. He is due to raise the issue in the Seanad tomorrow, with their permission.
Swanick said: "Sepsis is a global health crisis, which results in the deaths of 7 to 9 million people every year. Here in Ireland, around 3,000 people die from the illness every year. Despite these extraordinary figures, most people do not know what sepsis is.
"Karen and Joe Hughes were two such people. Their son Sean was in the process of recovering from a flu-like chest infection last January when he suddenly lost consciousness and despite attempts by his father and a team of paramedics, Sean sadly passed away.
"Karen and Joe want to ensure that no other parent has to endure what they have and they are calling on the Health Minister and the HSE to devise an awareness campaign for sepsis.
"Sepsis is the immune system’s over-reaction to an infection or injury. Normally our immune system fights infection – but sometimes, for reasons we don’t yet understand, it attacks our body’s own organs and tissues. If not treated immediately, sepsis can result in organ failure and death but if it is diagnosed early it can be successfully treated with antibiotics.
"When you go to a doctor’s office, a hospital and many other public buildings, there are often public information posters, leaflets about illnesses like meningitis and measles; and there are TV campaigns about stoke and the flu. It’s time for a similar campaign to make people aware of sepsis."