Life-threatening illness sepsis claims a life every few seconds

Many people have never heard of it. Often it starts like a small rain shower that turns into a raging storm. It's a quickly spreading, deadly infection that can appear anywhere in the body.

Frequently it begins with a cold, flu, urinary tract infection or a simple open wound. As the infection quickly sets in, bacteria invade the bloodstream, and multiple organs begin shutting down. About one-third of those who develop it will die.

The disease is called “sepsis,” and it affects adults and children of all ages and backgrounds. Muppets creator Jim Henson, Pope John Paul II, actor Christopher Reeves and a 20-year-old Brazilian fashion model are among those who have died from it.

The Community Health Education Center (CHEC) is hosting a free sepsis forum from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 11. The forum will be held at the CHEC, located on the Salem Hospital campus, 890 Oak St. SE, Building D, first floor. The program will be presented again on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at West Valley Hospital, 525 SE Washington St. NE in Dallas.

“This is a significant health issue of which many people are simply unaware. Sepsis doesn’t have the public visibility of cancer, stroke or heart disease, but it is more common,” said Steven Marvel, MD, sepsis expert and critical care specialist at Salem Hospital, who will be the event's primary speaker. “Our goal is to let people know about the signs, symptoms and risk factors. Early detection and treatment is critically important.”

Among the topics discussed will be the early warning signs for sepsis – which include chills, fever, rapid heartbeat and breathing, nausea or vomiting, confusion or dizziness, skin rash and decreased urination. “It’s important to recognize these signs and get medical help immediately. It could save your life,” says Dr. Marvel.

Free covered parking is available in the visitor’s garage at Salem Hospital. Please RSVP by going online at or phone 503-814-CHEC (2432).

Salem Health is comprised of Salem Hospital, West Valley Hospital, Willamette Health Partners and other affiliated health care organizations offering exceptional care to people in and around Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley. Visit us at; "Like" us at; follow us on Twitter: @salemhealth; and view us at