Blood poisoning, also called bacteremia, occurs when bacteria enter the blood, according to the Mayo Clinic and WebMD. Left untreated, bacteremia can damage heart valves and other bodily tissues. Further delay may cause a potentially life-threatening infection called sepsis.
Weak immune systems increase vulnerability in young infants, the elderly and patients receiving chemotherapy or steroid treatments, explains WebMD. Bacteria can get into the blood through the use of catheters, surgical or dental procedures, and other bacterial illnesses such as pneumonia. Symptoms generally include sudden fever and chills. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.