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The rash has many stages and forms

The bacteria leak poisons which damage the walls of the blood vessels, so the blood leaks into the skin – causing the rash.

It may start off anywhere on the body – as a faint pink rash, a red spot or blister, or as tiny red or purple pinpricks.

The glass test, or pressure test – a septicaemic rash usually does not fade under pressure. (Not 100% reliable.)

Failure of blood circulation to the extremities of the body can result in loss of fingers, toes and limbs. Robert (seen here at 18 months) was lucky to survive with limbs intact.

The rash

The appearance of the distinctive rash – often one of the final symptoms of deadly septicemia – means that immediate medical treatment is vital. However, don’t assume that because there’s no rash, there’s no urgency - and don’t let your doctor or hospital staff assume that either! In fact, you may not see a rash at all – and if you wait until you do, it may well be too late to stop the progress of the disease.

What causes the rash?

This happens when the bacteria multiply in the blood vessels, and release toxins, or poisons. These damage the blood vessels, so the blood can leak through into the tissues underneath the skin. It can start off either as a pink rash, or as tiny red or purple blood spots, like pin-pricks, anywhere on the body – which rapidly spread into purple blotches or bruises. The victim can literally bleed to death if not treated in time.

How it starts

It could start off just as a faint pink rash, as a red or purple spot or blotch, or as pinpricks on the skin. Often people mistake the early signs of the rash for a common ailment – such as a blister, a scratch, a bite mark, a bruise, or even an ingrown hair.

In the final, critical stage, it spreads rapidly into purple bruises, or haemorrhages, which cover the body. The person can go into shock, their blood pressure falls and circulation fails in the body extremities – the fingers, toes and limbs. Amputations or death may be a result.

The glass test

Some doctors and Foundations refer to the ‘drinking glass’ or ‘pressure' test – pressing a clear tumbler firmly against the rash, to see if it fades under pressure (like a harmless rash does), or stays red, indicating a septicemic rash.
The concern with this test is that it is not 100% reliable, especially in the early stages, and can give you a false sense of security. You need to keep testing at regular intervals. However if a rash appears, along with other symptoms, it's wise not to wait around trying to diagnose it yourself, but go straight to a doctor or hospital.