Toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome


An acute bacterial infection, toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is caused by toxin-producing, penicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, such as TSS toxin-1 and staphylococcal enterotoxins B and C. The disease primarily affects menstruating women younger than age 30 and is associated with continuous use of tampons during the menstrual period.

TSS incidence peaked in the mid-1980s and has since declined, probably because of the withdrawal of high-absorbency tampons from the market.


Although tampons are clearly implicated in TSS, their exact role is uncertain. Theoretically, tampons may contribute to development of TSS by:

  • introducing S. aureus into the vagina during insertion

  • absorbing toxin from the vagina

  • traumatizing the vaginal mucosa during insertion, thus leading to infection

  • providing a favorable environment for the growth of S. aureus.

When TSS isn’t related to menstruation, it seems to be linked to S. aureus infections, such as abscesses, osteomyelitis, and postsurgical infections.

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Jun 16, 2016 | Posted by in GENERAL & FAMILY MEDICINE | Comments Off on Toxic shock syndrome
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