What is Sepsis and why is it so hard to treat? by Connie b. Dellobuono
Answer by Connie b. Dellobuono:
Every year, severe sepsis strikes more than a million Americans1. It’s been estimated that between 28 and 50 percent of these people die2—far more than the number of U.S. deaths from prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined.
The number of sepsis cases per year has been on the rise in the United States. This is likely due to a combination of factors, including increased awareness and tracking of the condition, an aging population, the increased longevity of people with chronic diseases, the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms, an upsurge in invasive procedures and broader use of immunosuppressive and chemotherapeutic agents.
The most common primary sources of infection resulting in sepsis are the lungs, the abdomen, and the urinary tract. Typically, 50% of all sepsis cases start as an infection in the lungs. No definitive source is found in one third to one half of cases.
Infections leading to sepsis are usually bacterial but can be fungal or viral. While gram-negative bacteria were previously the most common cause of sepsis, in the last decade gram-positive bacteria, most commonly staphylococci, are thought to cause more than 50% of cases of sepsis.
Other commonly implicated bacteria include Streptococcus pyogenes, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Klebsiella species. Fungal sepsis accounts for approximately 5% of severe sepsis and septic shock cases; the most common cause of fungal sepsis is infection by Candida species of yeast.