August 13th, 2011

[ANON POST] septic shock without treatment

Hi, I'm hoping you can help me out with this question.

The situation:
My novel takes place in dark ages Europe (early 500s AD). The character is British and he and the rest of the army are at war in Armorica right now. He was fighting another guy and got wounded, it got infected, and now he's going to die of septic shock. I'm going to say it was a gut wound because that seems to be one that is likely to lead to sepsis; it also seems like it could appear to not be very serious at first, which is not necessary for my story but would be nice.

The question is basically, how quickly does the disease progress? (How soon after the wound would it become infected? Would they know he was going to die at that point? How long before he becomes completely delirious/unconscious, and how much longer does he have after that point?) It is especially important to me to know when the last time he can talk coherently is.

If you know how they might try to treat this, that would be great too.

What I have searched:
I read a lot of articles on septic shock on WebMD and the like.
I searched for "septic shock" + various combinations of "death," "fatal," "within hours," "without treatment."
My problem is that all the sources I can find assume that you have modern medicine and want to treat the shock. Also, I think they consider it a bit tacky to say "this is how fast it can kill you." So I know all about the progression of the disease and the ways we can treat it, but not much about what happens if you don't treat it.
Oh, and I have also done lots of general research on Dark Ages Britain for this novel and never found anything about their medicine.

(Please forgive me if I left something out or didn't do this right; I've never used livejournal before!)

Smallpox

Already checked: Wikipedia; mayoclinic.com; CDC

I'm writing a fanfic in which my character is exposed to
smallpox--present day. He busts a lab where people are working on
(illegal) bioweapons. Now, in the past, my character was vaccinnated
against smallpox, but that was over a decade ago. Google tells me that,
while he likely still has some protection, he could still develop the
disease, as he would be overdue for a booster.

(In the interest of disclosure, the character is Nightwing. I'm working
with: Batman being Batman, he would have seen to it that everyone on his
team had the vaccine as a precaution, even though routine innoculation
had already stopped by the 80s-90s. However, Nightwing neglected to get
boosters after he moved out and struck out on his own. Also, I don't
actually mean for him to contract the disease--just go through a bit of
pure hell and h/c while he waits to see if he's okay.)

1. My villain stole/arranged for others to steal a sample of the disease
from one of the two labs where they're being kept. How can she expose
Nightwing to it? Injection? Ventilation system? Some other method?

2. I know that the incubation period is 7-17 days. During that time,
would any tests be able to detect the presence of the disease? If the answer is yes, 1) how long does it take from the time that the test is administered until the time the results are in? 2) Are there any other conditions that could cause a false positive?

3. At what point would doctors be able to declare 'it looks like between
your earlier vaccination, and the one we just gave you when we found out
you'd been exposed, you've managed to avoid it. Congratulations. You're
fine.'?

4. The Mayo clinic site tells me that in the early stages, flu-like symptoms can be expected. Would there be a test that could determine whether it's actually smallpox at this stage? How long would it normally take to get the results?



Thanks in advance!

ETA: Just bought Demon in the Freezer today! Thanks for the tip!