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Alternative Names Return to topStaphylococcal toxic shock syndrome
Definition Return to top
Toxic shock syndrome is a severe disease that involves fever, shock, and problems with the function of several body organs.
Causes Return to top
Toxic shock syndrome is caused by a toxin produced by certain types of Staphylococcus bacteria. A similar syndrome, called toxic shock-like syndrome (TSLS), can be caused by Streptococcal bacteria.
Although the earliest described cases of toxic shock syndrome involved women who were using tampons during their periods (menstruation), just slightly over half of current cases are associated with such events. Toxic shock syndrome can also occur in children, postmenopausal women, and men.
Risk factors include:
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
No single test can diagnose toxic shock syndrome. The diagnosis is based on several criteria: fever, low blood pressure, a rash that peels after 1-2 weeks, and problems with the function of at least three organs. In some cases, blood cultures may be positive for growth of S. aureus.
Treatment Return to top
Any foreign materials, such as tampons, vaginal sponges, or nasal packing, will be removed. Sites of infection (such as a surgical wound) will be drained.
The goal of treatment is to maintain important body functions. This may include:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Toxic shock syndrome may be deadly in up to 50% of cases. The condition may return in those that survive.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Toxic shock syndrome is a medical emergency. You must seek immediate attention if you develop fever or rash, particularly during menstruation and tampon use, or if you have had recent surgery.
Prevention Return to top
Menstrual toxic shock syndrome can be prevented by avoiding the use of highly absorbent tampons. You can reduce your risk by changing tampons more frequently and using tampons only once in a while (not regularly) during menstruation.
References Return to top
Hans D, Kelly E, Wilhelmson K, Katz ED. Rapidly Fatal Infections. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2008 May;26(2):259-79, vii.
Todd JK. Toxic Shock Syndrome. In: Long SS, Pickering LK, Prober CG, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone; 2003:chap 13.Update Date: 9/3/2008 Updated by: D. Scott Smith, M.D., MSc, DTM&H, Chief of Infectious Disease & Geographic Medicine, Kaiser Redwood City, CA & Adjunct Assistant Professor, Stanford University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.