GREAT Western Hospital has urged people to be vigilant to the signs of sepsis, after health experts warned patients to go straight to hospital if they think they have the deadly condition.

After GPs cautioned patients with colds and coughs to stay away from surgeries last week, a winter health warning has been issued to remind people to be aware of the signs of one of the UK’s biggest killers.

Health experts have now told patients with suspected sepsis not to write off the symptoms as a bad cold or flu bug, but to go hospital immediately if they suspect they have the infection.

Sepsis, known as blood poisoning or septicaemia, is a life-threatening condition where the immune system overreacts to an infection and attacks its own organs and tissues. If not treated quickly It can lead to a drop in blood pressure, organ failure or even death

In March 2015, Great Western Hospital consultant orthopaedic surgeon Dr Tony Fogg, 64, died from sepsis in Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

He initially thought he had severe flu but tests showed three separate infections which caused sepsis and he deteriorated in hospital.

Dr Amanda Pegden, consultant physician at GWH, said: “Identifying and treating sepsis quickly will greatly increase a person’s chances of making a full recovery, which is why anyone who suspects that they or someone they love has sepsis should contact their GP as soon as possible.

“While its early symptoms are similar to those of flu, it’s important to remember that you cannot develop sepsis if you haven’t already been suffering from an infection, such as a chest or urine infection, or an injury that caused an open wound, such as a cut, bite or burn.

“It’s only right that people with everyday coughs and colds do not begin attending hospital unnecessarily, but for anyone whose flu-like symptoms tick the boxes of sepsis, there should be absolutely no hesitation in seeking medical help straightaway.”

Sepsis symptoms can include feeling dizzy or faint, confusion or disorientation, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, severe muscle pain, severe breathlessness, decreased urine production, loss of consciousness or cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin. It can be mistaken for flu in its early stages.

An estimated 150,000 people are struck down by sepsis each year, which results in 44,000 deaths, according to the UK Sepsis Trust.

A nationwide campaign to help parents spot the symptoms of sepsis in children was launched in December following the death of one-year-old William Mead from Cornwall.

Caroline Gamlin, NHS England South West Medical Director, said: This campaign will help parents identify when their children are seriously unwell and to encourage them to seek urgent medical attention. We know that acting quickly can save a child’s life.

“Right across NHS England we have started a new movement to tackle this condition head on.

“Staff across the NHS are being made more aware of how to spot and deal with sepsis.”