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- Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) facts
- What is toxic shock syndrome?
- What causes toxic shock syndrome?
- What are risk factors for toxic shock syndrome?
- What are toxic shock syndrome symptoms and signs?
- How do physicians diagnose toxic shock syndrome?
- What is the treatment for toxic shock syndrome?
- What is the prognosis of toxic shock syndrome?
- Is it possible to prevent toxic shock syndrome?
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What causes toxic shock syndrome?
The cause of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is one of several closely related exotoxins secreted by bacteria that are infecting the person. The toxins activate T cells of the immune system to produce chemicals known as cytokines that subsequently cause shock and tissue damage. Although there are several closely related exotoxins, about 80% of individuals with TSS have an illness caused by TSST-1 or a similar exotoxin. Other exotoxins such as those produced by enterococci A, C, D, E, and H cause most of the remaining 20% of infections.
M protein, a filamentous protein on the cell membrane of group A Streptococcus bacteria enhances the likelihood of the bacterial strain being more likely to cause disease. Bacterial strains that lack M protein are less lethal because M protein can protect bacteria from host immune defenses. In addition, M protein apparently enhances cell damage and inflammation caused by exotoxins.
What are risk factors for toxic shock syndrome?
Risk factors for TSS include a history of using superabsorbent tampons, surgical wounds, history of using a diaphragm or contraceptive sponge, having a localized infection deep in the skin, abortion, burns, and immunosuppression (for example, as seen with diabetes, chronic lung or heart disease, or in elderly patients).