LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Every year, at least 1.7 million Americans develop sepsis and 270,00 will die as a result.

Sepsis is usually caused by bacterial infections, but it can also be caused by viral infections -- like COVID. It can cause fever, chills, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, confusion and more.

“Sepsis is one of the most dangerous syndromes known in medicine,” said Dr. Victor Nizet.

It’s estimated that one in three patients who die in a hospital also have sepsis.

“It is an uncontrolled inflammatory response to a severe bacterial infection that is spreading through your body,” Nizet said.

It’s typically treated with antibiotics, but there’s no single approved drug specifically targeting sepsis, but researchers at University of California San Diego have found two different drugs -- already FDA approved -- that may help the patient’s own body fight staph sepsis, not by using antibiotics, but by maintaining a patient’s platelet count.

“Platelets in the blood were able to kill staph better than the white blood cells,” Nizet said.

The two reported drugs used to maintain platelets are Brilinta -- a blood thinner commonly used to prevent heart attacks recurrence -- and Tamiflu, which is used to treat the flu.

Research shows 60% of mice treated with both drugs survived 10 days following infection, compared to 20% of untreated mice. Researchers hope these results will transfer to people.

“Looking for new ideas in which we try to assist in the clearance of infection by boosting the immune system,” Nizet said.

Sepsis is one of the most costly of all diseases, recently totaling more than $24 billion in hospital expenses, %13 of total U.S. hospital costs.

More: Health stories

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