'Act immediately': Mum's warning about 'red line' sign of sepsis

Photo: The red line is called Lymphangitis, which means the infection is in the lymphatic system. Do not delay, seek ...
Photo: The red line is called Lymphangitis, which means the infection is in the lymphatic system. Do not delay, seek urgent medical attention. Tiny Hearts Education 

A mum has issued a stark warning to parents after her eight-year-old son contracted sepsis following a fall at the zoo. 

The UK woman explained that she was in "two minds" about whether to share her story, but she wanted to ensure other parents were aware of the 'sign' of a serious infection. 

"I am sure there are other parents who wouldn't know either," she wrote in her original Facebook post. "The only reason I knew is because it had happened to a friend's son two years ago and she had shared."

The mum's warning was posted alongside a photo of her son's arm, wrapped in a bandage with a red line emerging from it, stretching up to his wrist.  

While the original post has been deleted, Australian group Tiny Hearts Education, who provide expert advice and first aid courses for parents around the country, decided to re-share the photo to their social media pages in order to reach as many parents as possible. 

"A week or so ago the littlest fell over at the zoo," the mum wrote.

"He took quite a bashing but once we got home I cleaned him up. I rang school on Farm school day to make sure he washed his hands after digging and I tried hard to ensure it was kept clean (hand and elbow). He's an eight-year-old boy, however.


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The mum explained that while the wounds didn't look infected or 'gunky', they had gotten bigger. 

"I wasn't happy as I as I noticed red tracking down his vein," the concerned mum said. "I then checked his elbow - the same." 

"I took him down to the out of hours feeling a bit silly but when the doctor saw it he commended me on recognising it and getting down ASAP."

The mum was told that her son had 'blood poisoning / sepsis' and he was immediately treated with antibiotics, which fortunately worked on her child. 

"If you spot this red line running from a wound get your child is seen straight away," she urged. "It isn't something you can 'leave' until Monday when the doctors are back in the office."

"Hopefully, my post might help someone the way my friend's post from 2 years ago helped me." 

The post has since gone viral, with thousands of Australian parents sharing and commenting. 

"Wow I didn't know this. Thank you for posting," said one.

"Definitely should be shared. I had no idea and now I'm aware."

Why should you be concerned about red lines from a wound? 

According to Tiny Hearts Education, the red line is called Lymphangitis, which means the infection is in the lymphatic system. It causes red lines from the wound that travel in the direction of the nearest lymph gland.

"If treated quickly, the condition can be mild but if left untreated, complications can occur, and the condition can become very serious," Tiny Hearts warns. 

When the infection crosses over into the bloodstream, like it did for this boy, it's known as sepsis. 

"Do not delay. Seek urgent medical care!"

Symptoms of sepsis and how your child may react to the infection:  

  • Rapid breathing
  • Convulsions or fits
  • A rash that doesn't fade when you press it
  • Fever or a very low temperature
  • Discoloured or mottled skin, very pale or blueish 
  • Not passing urine for several hours 
  • Hard to wake, lethargic or floppy