The global burden of sepsis



Sepsis is defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. It is important to consider sepsis early in patients who have an infection or who are extremely unwell, as every hour counts in sepsis treatment.

For adults, the standard definition of sepsis is based on the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score. SOFA variables:

  • PaO2/FiO2 ratio
  • Serum creatinine or urine output
  • Bilirubin
  • Mean arterial pressure (MAP)
  • Platelet count
  • Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score
  • Administration of vasopressors and dose rate

SOFA Score ≥ 2 in setting of infection strongly supports the diagnosis of sepsis.

Septic shock: Vasopressors needed to maintain MAP ≥ 65 mmHg and serum lactate level ≥ 2 mmo1/L (18 mg/dL) despite volume resuscitation.

Adult Sepsis Downloadable fact sheet

Paediatric Sepsis Downloadable fact sheet


The Global Sepsis Alliance website describes how most types of microorganisms can cause sepsis, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. However, it may also be caused by infections with seasonal influenza viruses, dengue viruses, and highly transmissible pathogens of public health concern; such as avian and swine influenza viruses, Ebola, and yellow fever viruses.

Furthermore, sepsis often presents as the clinical deterioration of common and preventable infections such as those of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and urinary tract, or of wounds and skin.

Unfortunately, the sepsis burden continues well past the initial diagnosis with sepsis survivors experiencing many on-going health issues. These include, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, poor memory, difficulty sleeping, fatigue and anxiety.

Early detection is key and raising awareness within the medical community is so important.


In that, World Sepsis Day will be held on 13 September 2021. This is an annual day of awareness that aims to shed light on the sepsis burden and the inconceivable impact that it has globally. The Global Sepsis Alliance has some excellent resources and information for how you can help contribute to World Sepsis Day and become involved in the fight against sepsis.


Our Coda Cure pillar addresses communicable and noncommunicable diseases, with the current focus on the global burden of sepsis.

Sepsis has an alarmingly high prevalence globally.

Every year there are 47-50 million cases of sepsis.

Annually, sepsis is responsible for a devastating 11 million deaths.

Even more concerning, 40% of cases are in children under 5 years old.

For this reason, sepsis is a core focus of Coda’s mission. So far, we have released two Coda Cure series where experts in the field have discussed the critical elements of sepsis. This includes, the importance of clear definitions, treatment strategies, managing Antimicrobial Resistance and vaccination programs. Then, focusing on how to manage the long term outcomes of sepsis.


What you can do to be involved

1. Attend: The Australian Sepsis Network in collaboration with Alfred Health and the Victorian Sepsis Grand Rounds team are hosting a free virtual event: Australian Sepsis Network National Symposium followed by SEPSIS 2021: A Global Threat. This event aims to explore the global threat of sepsis in 2021, its association with COVID-19, as well as challenges and controversies.


2. Have your say: The Australian National Sepsis Clinical Care Standard is now circulating for public consultation with comments due by 30 September 2021.


3. Read: The European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM), The Global Sepsis Alliance (GSA) and The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) have recently released information on the impact of Covid on the Sepsis burden. Find the link here: Research Article


4. Sign: Sign the World Sepsis Declaration. Join 10,000 entities who have taken a stand against Sepsis.


5. Register: For early access tickets to Coda22! As well as a sepsis workshop, sepsis also forms a critical part of the main program.


6. Listen & watch: We have released a number of Sepsis podcasts and videos. Catch them below or wherever you get your podcasts!

Additionally, all of the recordings from the World Sepsis Congress 2020 are available to watch here.


7. Resources: Play this short explainer video in your practice. This video is informative and a great tool to show in waiting rooms or public common areas. Furthermore, click here to access infographics, fact sheets and other useful tools to help spread the word.

For additional resources for healthcare professionals click here.