Girl, 4, develops sepsis after trying on shoes without socks — is that possible?

Click to play video: 'What is sepsis? Girl catches infection trying on shoes without socks' What is sepsis? Girl catches infection trying on shoes without socks
WATCH: A mom's post about her daughter's brush with sepsis after shoe shopping has gone viral. – Sep 6, 2018

A mother’s warning about shoe shopping has gone viral after she claims her four-year-old daughter developed sepsis from trying on shoes without socks.

Jodie Thomas, a mother-of-three in Wales, took her daughter, Sienna Rasul, on a back-to-school shopping outing where the little girl tried on several pairs of shoes without putting on a pair of socks. Thomas says the day after their shopping trip, Rasul was crying from pain, so she took her to the hospital.

“I drove her straight into hospital, she was shaking and twitching — it was horrible to see my little girl like that,” Thomas told Metro UK.

That’s when doctors spotted an infection on the tot’s foot and diagnosed her with sepsis.

“I was really shocked when the doctors said it was from trying on new shoes,” Thomas said. “The shoes she liked had been tried on by other little girls and that’s how Sienna picked up the infection.”

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By the next day, Rasul’s infection had begun to spread up her leg and she was running a high fever. Although doctors initially thought they would have to operate, they managed to drain the pus from the leg and put the young girl on an antibiotic drip.

READ MORE: Sepsis kills thousands every year. And B.C. scientists are leading the fight to treat it

Dr. Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, believes that Rasul likely had a “breach” in her skin from a cut or a bug bite that allowed the bacteria to enter her bloodstream.

Thomas is thus taking this opportunity to warn parents about the dangers of trying on shoes without socks.

“I knew you risk getting things like athlete’s foot from trying on shoes but blood poisoning is far more serious. You don’t know whose feet have been in the shoes before you.”

While taking a pair of socks with you on a shoe shopping expedition might make good hygienic sense, Dr. Paul Kubes of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the University of Calgary doesn’t believe it will help in preventing a situation like this one.

“While this is an interesting story, it’s not clear that the infection necessarily came from the shoes,” he says. “I’m not convinced putting on socks would have made much of a difference, either. Bacteria can slip through a pair of socks.”

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Kubes says it’s impossible to determine whether the girl contracted the bacteria from trying on shoes. It could have already been on her foot, or if she had put her bare foot on the floor before slipping into a pair of shoes, she could have picked it up there.

“Probably close to 50 per cent of people are colonized by a staph infection. We happen to have it on our skin including many other types of bacteria — it’s called the skin microbiome — and it’s not a problem normally,” he says.

“What this mother is suggesting is that the bacteria was transferred to a shoe and that’s how her daughter got it, but that’s pure speculation. She could have stepped on the ground and picked it up, or she could have contracted it earlier in the day.”

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Luckily for Rasul, doctors were able to intervene quickly and she has made a full recovery. Otherwise, she could have faced serious complications, including organ failure.

To prevent the possibility of sepsis, Kubes says to make sure to swab any cuts or abrasions with an antiseptic and to cover it with a bandage to protect from bacteria.

“That [protocol] would have been much more protective than a pair of socks,” he says.

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