The patient appeared withdrawn and exhausted when he came to our emergency room with his adult son on a summer day. The man, in his mid-50s, had been coughing up blood for a few days, suffering from upper abdominal pain and nausea, and muscle weakness. Talking was tiring for him, but he was able to tell my colleagues that at first he just felt like he had a cold, until his condition suddenly worsened. He had no previous illnesses, took no medication, but had smoked for many years. The colleagues in the emergency room noticed that the blood pressure was significantly low at 80 to 56 units and that the heart was beating much too fast. They were alarmed to discover that the oxygen saturation of the blood was only 50 percent; Normally it is almost 100 percent.
The laboratory tests showed that he had a lack of platelets, that the signs of inflammation in the blood were significantly increased and that his kidneys were no longer functioning properly. The bile pigment bilirubin was also present in too high a concentration, which is why the skin and conjunctiva of the eyes were yellow. Everything indicated that the patient was suffering from blood poisoning. So his colleagues gave him broad-spectrum antibiotics to combat a possible bacterial infection. Now it was time to find out what the cause of the illness was.
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