Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)
can affect men, women, and
children. Most people who get TSS are in good health before they become ill.
The illness usually develops rapidly. And most people become much sicker than
would be expected if they simply had the
flu or another minor infection. This can be a
life-threatening illness, so immediate medical treatment in a hospital is
Most cases of TSS that people have heard about have been related to
women using tampons, which is called menstrual TSS.
Young women ages 15 to 24 are affected most often.1
Nonmenstrual TSS can follow outbreaks of the
flu or be a rare complication of
chickenpox. About half of the people who develop TSS have
nonmenstrual TSS. Nonmenstrual TSS may be related to a history of
antibiotic use. It is most likely to develop in women
who are in the hospital after childbirth or a surgical procedure.2
Menstrual TSS has declined since women have become more aware of the
direct relation of TSS with tampon use. Also, certain extremely absorbent
tampons are no longer available, which means that a woman must change a tampon
more often. This reduces the risk for TSS.
While menstrual TSS cases have decreased, nonmenstrual TSS continues
to occur at a steady rate.
Reingold AL (2008). Toxic shock syndrome (staphylococcoal). In RB Wallace et al., eds., Wallace/Maxcy-Rosenau-Last Public Health and Preventive Medicine, 15th ed., pp. 483–499. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
Suen J, et al. (2009). Toxic shock syndrome. In RD Feigin et al., eds., Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., vol. 1, pp. 862–884. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
February 23, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Dennis L. Stevens, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease
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