When you go shoe shopping, it’s likely you don’t think about being exposed to life-threatening bacterial infections. But for one unfortunate little girl, her shoe shopping trip turned into a mother’s worst nightmare.
United Kingdom South Wales resident, Jodie Thomas took her four-year-old daughter, Sienna, shoe shopping not knowing what was coming next. The outing resulted in her daughter being diagnosed with an infection known as sepsis. Her daughter, who had tried on a shoe without socks, endured a five-day hospital stay.
Sepsis: What Is It?
Sepsis is a condition caused by a body’s response to an infection. Normally, when an infection occurs in the body, it releases chemicals into the bloodstream. This allows the body to fight infections. When a body’s response to chemicals is out of balance, sepsis can occur. The condition is considered a medical emergency and should not be taken lightly, as it can be life-threatening. The changes that sepsis can trigger can result in damage to multiple organ systems such as kidneys, lungs, and brain. (1)
Sepsis can bring about multiple symptoms such as high fever, elevated heart rate, and fast breathing. When gone untreated, sepsis can turn into what is known as septic shock. Septic shock means the body’s blood pressure has fallen and vital organs are shutting down.
People most susceptible to sepsis are the elderly, infants, and those with weakened immune systems. Pneumonia, kidney or abdominal infections, or blood infections are the most common infections that can trigger sepsis. But it’s important to note that sepsis can actually be triggered by any infection.
Because sepsis can evolve quickly, seeking urgent medical attention is key so it can be managed effectively. As the condition progresses, disorientation and confusion can occur. The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the risk of it becoming life-threatening. (2)
Shoe Shopping Gone Wrong
What started as any other day of shopping turned into “One hell of an outing”, as Jodie Thomas’ Facebook post stated. As her daughter was wearing sandals during their shopping excursion, socks were not readily available as her daughter tried on shoes. Thomas told The Sun newspaper about the pain her daughter experienced and how the doctors believed they may need to operate. In just a days’ time, the sore on her daughter’s foot had spread up her leg resulting in a spiked fever. Luckily, doctors were able to avoid surgery, and instead drained the infection that was on the four-year-old girl’s foot. “Surgery isn’t often required but it might be if antibiotics don’t deal with the infection first.” Dr. Schnofeld said. (3)
Was the simple fact that Jodie Thomas’ daughter was not wearing socks the reason for contracting this concerning infection?
Sienna’s case is extremely rare, and it’s believed uncommon to get such a drastic infection from just trying on shoes.
It’s likely that trying on shoes barefoot was not the sole cause of the child contracting sepsis. Doctors believe Sienna probably had a “breach” in her skin either from a bug bite or cut on her foot that allowed for the infections breeding ground. (5)
Dr. Schonfeld suggests that shoe shopping without socks isn’t ‘inherently high-risk’, but there is always a risk of bacteria exposure. She suggests, “It’s important to remember one, that we should avoid potentially contaminated surfaces when you have open cuts or sores. And two, we should pay attention to any early signs of infection.” (2)
Doctors suggest caring for wounds properly as a precaution to developing an infection that can lead to sepsis. Care, such as cleaning wounds and abrasions while protecting wounds with a bandage, will help keep bacteria away while limiting irritation.
Jodie Thomas wrote suggestions on her Facebook page in hopes of raising awareness. She wants to prevent what happened to her daughter from happening to others. Jodie states, “For all parents please put socks on your children while trying new shoes on. I’m guilty of not doing it for mine and myself, but this can be the outcome of infection spreading throughout the body. You don’t know whose feet have been in them beforehand!”(4)