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Toxic shock syndrome

  • Definition

    Toxic shock syndrome is a severe disease that involves fever, shock, and problems with the function of several body organs.


    Alternative Names

    Staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    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 cases of toxic shock syndrome involved women who were using tampons during their periods (menstruation), today less than half of current cases are associated with such events. 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:

    • Childbirth
    • Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) infection, commonly called a Staph infection
    • Foreign bodies or packings (such as those used to stop nosebleeds)
    • Menstruation
    • Surgery
    • Tampon use (particularly if you leave on in for a long time)
    • Use of barrier contraceptives such as a diaphragm or vaginal sponge
    • Wound infection after surgery