Epidemiology of sepsis: race, sex, and chronic alcohol abuse

Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Nov 15;41 Suppl 7:S490-7. doi: 10.1086/432003.


The annual incidences of severe sepsis in several industrialized nations have recently been reported to be 50-100 cases per 100,000 persons. These numbers exceed the estimated rates for other diseases that hold a heightened public awareness, including breast cancer and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. There are also sex and race differences in the incidence of sepsis. Men are more likely than women to develop sepsis, with a mean annual relative risk of 1.28. Nonwhites are nearly twice as likely to develop sepsis as whites. These race and sex disparities in the incidence of sepsis are likely explained by differences in a variety of factors, including the presence of comorbid conditions. For example, chronic alcohol abuse is associated with a persistent fever, delayed resolution of symptoms, increased rates of bacteremia, increased use of intensive care, prolonged duration of hospital stay, and increased cost of hospitalization for infected patients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / ethnology
  • Animals
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • England / epidemiology
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay
  • Prognosis
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / ethnology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis / epidemiology*
  • Sepsis / ethnology
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology