Global Sepsis Pathogen Patterns


  • Although sepsis is a global problem, there is little data on the pattern of causative organisms as well as any changes over time.

  • Until the pandemic, bacterial sepsis was the predominate pathogen. However, the COVID pandemic saw viral sepsis become a major factor.

  • Differences exist in sepsis pathogen patterns globally.


  • Several large studies over almost 2 decades have evaluated the global frequency of sepsis on frequency and outcomes, including pathogen identification.

  • The major studies are outlined in the table below:

  • Percentage of unidentified pathogens remains high.

    • Up to 40% of patients did not grow an identifiable pathogen.
  • Also important to note that when blood cultures are positive, there is a high risk (up to 50%) of false positive findings.


  • Pathogen patterns varied around the globe
    • Gram positive organisms are prevalent in some regions whereas Gram negative and fungi are more common in others.

  • The most common pathogens found also varied by region around the world.
  • Gram negative pathogens are consistently more prevalent than Gram negative pathogens.
  • Mixed infections are a common occurrence as well.


  • With the exception of COVID, outbreaks, bacterial pathogens are the most prevalent.

  • There remains a high percentage of patients without blood culture pathogen identification which may further complicate sepsis treatment plans.

  • Globally, there are different prevalence rates which should be accounted for in the development of treatment strategies in sepsis patients. This includes ICU as well as non-ICU acquired sepsis.

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Erkan Hassan is the Co-Founder & Chief Clinical Officer of Sepsis Program Optimization where he designs & oversees the implementation of solutions to optimize sepsis programs.

To discuss your organization’s Barriers of Effective Sepsis Care, contact Erkan by phone (844) 4SEPSIS (844-473-7747), email (, or video chat.