Toxic shock syndrome is a serious disease that involves fever, shock, and problems with several body organs.
Toxic shock syndrome is caused by a toxin produced by some types of Staphylococcus bacteria. A similar problem, called toxic shock-like syndrome (TSLS), can be caused by Streptococcal bacteria. Not all staph or strep infections cause toxic shock syndrome.
The earliest cases of toxic shock syndrome involved women who used tampons during their periods (menstruation). However, today less than half of cases are linked to tampon use. Toxic shock syndrome can also occur with skin infections, burns, and after surgery. The condition can also affect children, postmenopausal women, and men.
Risk factors include:
No single test can diagnose toxic shock syndrome.
The health care provider will look for the following factors:
In some cases, blood cultures may be positive for growth of S. aureus.
The goal of treatment is to maintain important body functions. This may include:
Toxic shock syndrome may be deadly in up to 50% of cases. The condition may return in those that survive.
Toxic shock syndrome is a medical emergency. Seek medical help right away if you develop a rash, fever, and feel ill, particularly during menstruation and tampon use or if you have had recent surgery.
You can lower your risk of menstrual toxic shock syndrome by:
Staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome
Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Infections of the lower genital tract: vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, endometritis, and salpingitis. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 23.
Updated by: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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