Madonna was hospitalized for a ‘serious bacterial infection.’ What does that mean?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Madonna's manager announced June 28 that she'd been hospitalized for a bacterial infection and in the intensive care unit, and that she'd be postponing her upcoming Celebration Tour, leading to questions about the illness that made her so sick.

Dr. Natalie Azar, medical correspondent for NBC News, described how a bacterial infection could cause someone to be admitted to the intensive care unit in a segment aired on TODAY June 29.

What is a bacterial infection?

Bacterial infections are any illnesses caused by bacterial growth or toxins, according to Cleveland Clinic. The most common types of bacterial infections include infections in the lung, urinary tract, skin or GI tract, Azar said.

For example, Salmonella in food can cause a bacterial infection and lead to food poisoning. Lyme disease, which can cause a range of symptoms, is also due to bacteria passed through tick bites. Strep throat is another type of bacterial infection that usually only causes mild illness but can be deadly if it becomes invasive, meaning the bacteria spread to a part of the body where it doesn't normally go.

Bacterial infections can be caused by "harmful bacteria" from a person, animal, an infected substance or another aspect of your environment, or they can be caused by good bacteria getting to a place in your body where it shouldn't be, per the Cleveland Clinic.

People who are most susceptible to bacterial infections include those with diabetes, a weakened immune system, an open wound or those who had surgery recently, Cleveland Clinic noted.

What kind of bacterial infection does Madonna have?

Oseary did not disclose in his announcement what kind of bacterial infection Madonna has. However, Azar speculated that a condition called sepsis may have landed the music legend in the ICU.

"Typically, admission to the ICU would happen if the doctors are concerned that somebody either is perhaps becoming septic or may have sepsis, which is a potentially life-threatening emergency that can happen when your immune response overreacts to an infection," Azar said.

Symptoms of sepsis depend on the kind of infection that led the person to go into sepsis. Bacterial infections are the most common cause of sepsis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Bacterial infections are usually the things that will get people the sickest that they can end up in the ICU," Azar explained. A November 2022 study found that 13.6% of all global deaths in 2019 were due to bacterial infections — or about 1 in 7.

"Treatment (for sepsis) would include broad spectrum antibiotics, IV fluids, support of her blood pressure heart rate, all of those things," Azar said.

She added that she thinks Madonna, 64, will have a good prognosis.

"Recovery can sometimes take weeks to month, but the fact that she is such a healthy woman, and that clearly this was treated and treatment (was) instituted early, I think she'll have a very, very good outcome," she said.

Madonna hospitalized with “serious bacterial infection”

Madonna's manager, Guy Oseary, said Wednesday the singer's health was improving after her ICU stay.

"On Saturday, June 24, Madonna developed a serious bacterial infection which led to a several-day stay in the ICU. Her health is improving, however she is still under medical care. A full recovery is expected," Oseary said in a statement.

A source close to Madonna told NBC News Wednesday afternoon Madonna is "out of the ICU and recovering."

Oseary said Madonna would need to "pause all commitments," including her upcoming tour, a 43-date performance highlighting her four decade-long career.

The tour will be rescheduled and have a new start date, Oseary said.

This article was originally published on