Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

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Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) facts

  • Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a severe illness associated with infections.
  • Toxic shock syndrome is caused by exotoxin(s) secreted by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus.
  • Risk factors include use of tampons, deep wound infections, and any immunosuppressive health problems.
  • Signs and symptoms include high fever, low blood pressure, and organ damage such as lung, liver, or renal dysfunction.
  • Diagnosis is usually made by clinical criteria such as the signs and symptoms listed above.
  • Treatment depends on the individual's condition; usually intravenous fluids and IV antibiotics are required -- some patients may require additional support (respiratory support, dialysis, and intensive care).
  • Early diagnosis with effective treatment can yield a good prognosis; development of organ damage usually worsens the patient's prognosis.
  • The incidence of toxic shock syndrome can be reduced by avoiding the use of superabsorbent tampons and other devices placed in the vagina; other methods include excellent wound care and/or early treatment of deep wounds.

What is toxic shock syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome is a severe illness associated with group A Streptococcus (GAS or Streptococcus pyogenes); this bacterium produces a toxin termed TSS toxin-1 (TSST-1). TSS was first described in 1978 in children, but subsequent reports identified TSS outbreaks in women and were associated with tampon use. Although first thought to be additionally associated with menstruation, over the past years, less than half of TTS cases have been associated with menstruation. Although most cases of TTS occur in women, about 25% of nonmenstrual infections occur in men. TSS is also associated with Staphylococcus infections; some strains of these bacteria produce exotoxins very similar to TSST-1.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/31/2014


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