by EBSCO Medical Review Board


Bacteremia is bacteria that has spread to the blood. It can lead to infections when it is not treated. It can also lead to sepsis. This is a severe reaction of the body to the infection.


It is normal to have bacteria in some parts of the body. Small tears or harm can allow it to enter the blood. This can happen from:

  • Everyday tasks like toothbrushing
  • Some health procedures
  • Infections in the body, such as pneumonia
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Risk Factors

Things that can raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Dental cleanings or procedures
  • Having an IV or a urinary or central catheter
  • Having tubes placed in the throat to help with breathing
  • Recent surgery or hospital stay


Most people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have a fever and body aches.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. An exam will be done.

Your blood will be tested to look for signs of bacteria.


Antibiotics will be used to keep the bacteria from leading to a serious infection or sepsis.


People at higher risk of infection may be given antibiotics before certain medical procedures. This will get rid of bacteria before it can cause problems.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics 


Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society 

Public Health Agency of Canada 


Bacteremia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated October 2018. Accessed July 20, 2020.

Bacteremia with gram-negative bacilli. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated June 12, 2020. Accessed July 20, 2020.

Occult bacteremia and fever without apparent source in infants and young children. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated March 2020. Accessed July 20, 2020.

Rongpharpi SR, Duggal S, Kalita H, Duggal AK. Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia: targeting the source. Postgrad Med. 2014 Sep;126(5):167-175.

Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated February 24, 2020. Accessed July 20, 2020.

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