THE number of people dying from sepsis in the Borders has almost doubled in a year.

Figures released by NHS Borders show that there were 66 deaths during 2017/18 from the infection - a significant increase from the 38 deaths during 2016/17.

The region, as with the rest of Scotland, has witnessed a concerning growth in the number of cases over the past four or five years.

But the biggest increases have come in the past 24 months.

NHS Borders treated 235 patients for sepsis in 2016/17 yet last year the number had jumped to 367 people.

NHS Borders believes awareness campaigns have led to more people recognising the symptoms.

A spokesperson "We are pleased that in recent years campaigns such as World Sepsis Day have helped to raise awareness of, and alertness to, the possibility of sepsis.

"Awareness campaigns and media coverage have helped to encourage people who may be experiencing symptoms of sepsis to seek medical help as a matter of urgency.

"This has contributed to more cases of sepsis, which is a very serious medical condition, being recognised and recorded.

"This has enabled us to provide treatment as swiftly as possible in line with the National Early Warning Score guidelines.”

Sepsis can be triggered by an infection in any part of the body, but the most common areas are the lungs, urinary tract, abdomen and pelvis.

The infection can often develop after surgery, had a catheter fitted or been required to stay in hospital for a lengthy period.

People most at risk from sepsis are sufferers of an underlying medical condition which weakens the immune system, as well as the very young, very old and pregnant women.

Symptoms related to sepsis include a fever, fast heartbeat and fast breathing and feeling dizzy.

The Scottish Government launched an awareness campaign last year in a bid to reverse the growing number of deaths.

A spokesman said: “To tackle the problem of sepsis, our public awareness campaign has played a crucial role in alerting more people to the symptoms and dangers of the disease.

“Early identification is critical and treatment within one hour of recognition has led to mortality rates among those identified at this stage falling by 21 percent since 2012.”

During 2013/14 there were 211 cases of sepsis in the Borders, resulting in 25 deaths.

The following year it had increased to 270 cases and 50 deaths.

But the 2017/18 figures of 367 cases and 66 deaths are the highest yet.