Blood poisoning is to blame for every fifth death – naturopathy & naturopathic specialist portal

More blood poisoning education needed

Around eleven million people die each year from blood poisoning (sepsis). Almost three million of those affected are children. This means that around every fifth death worldwide is associated with sepsis. This emerges from the first global report of the World Health Organization (WHO) on sepsis.

Blood poisoning can occur as a complication of numerous diseases. According to the WHO, the global risks of sepsis are far underestimated. The organization is calling for more education and preventative measures against this often fatal complication. Of the “Global Report on the Epidemiology and Burden of Sepsis“Is available free of charge on the WHO website.

Why sepsis is so widespread without being noticed

The report also notes that there is an urgent need for better data on sepsis. Most of the studies on the subject have been conducted in hospitals and intensive care units in high-income countries. Little is known about the situation in other parts of the world. In addition, different definitions of sepsis, diagnostic criteria and codes used by hospitals make it difficult to develop a clear understanding of the true global burden of blood infections.

“The world urgently needs to step up its efforts to improve data on sepsis so that all countries can identify and treat this terrible disease in a timely manner,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a press release on the current sepsis report.

Consequences of blood poisoning

As the WHO reports, sepsis can develop as a reaction to an infection. Most blood poisoning is the result of diarrhea or lower respiratory infections. If blood poisoning is not detected early and treated in good time, it can trigger septic shock and multiple organ failure and thus lead to death. But long-term damage often remains even in those who survive sepsis. Around every second person suffering from sepsis either dies within a year or is burdened by long-term disabilities.

Who has a particularly high risk of sepsis?

Some populations are more at risk of sepsis than others, according to the report. These include, for example, newborns, pregnant women and people who live in poor or resource-poor regions. Around 85 percent of all sepsis cases occur in these population groups, according to the WHO.

49 million sepsis cases per year

The WHO estimates the number of sepsis cases on the basis of the available data at 49 million per year. Every second case concerns a child. Around 2.9 million children die each year from blood poisoning. The WHO underlines that early diagnosis and appropriate clinical treatment could prevent most of these deaths.

Sepsis often associated with pregnancy

The third most common cause of blood poisoning is, according to the WHO report, compilations in pregnancy, births and abortions. Sepsis is often the reason why women die as a result of childbirth. It is estimated that eleven out of 1,000 women who give birth will die of blood poisoning.

Around every second sepsis occurs in the hospital

The report also notes that sepsis is often associated with health care. About half (49 percent) of the patients with sepsis contracted it in intensive care units or in hospitals. 27 percent of sepsis sufferers die in hospitals, and 42 percent in intensive care units. The increasing resistance to antibiotics in some germs is constantly exacerbating this situation.

What can be done about sepsis?

The WHO presents a range of measures to reduce the risk of sepsis, such as improved sanitation, good water quality and availability, and measures to prevent and contain infections. Above all, adequate hand hygiene plays a role here. Last but not least, early diagnosis and appropriate clinical management of the disease can save lives. According to the WHO, these measures could prevent 84 percent of child deaths.

To achieve this, it would be necessary to conduct studies with high-quality data collection, better fund research capacity in this area, introduce more effective monitoring systems and establish international classifications. The development of faster and more affordable diagnostic methods could also improve the treatment of sepsis. Last but not least, the population needs more detailed information about sepsis and health workers better trained in the treatment of blood poisoning, emphasizes the WHO. (vb)

For more information about sepsis, see the article: Blood poisoning (sepsis; septicemia).

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


Diploma-Editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • WHO calls for global action on sepsis – cause of 1 in 5 deaths worldwide (veröffenticht: 08.09.2020),
  • WHO: Global Report on the Epidemiology and Burden of Sepsis, 2020,

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.


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