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Toxic shock syndrome
(TSS) is a rare illness that happens suddenly after an infection. It quickly
can harm several different organs, including the
kidneys, and the
liver, and it can be deadly. Since toxic shock
syndrome gets worse quickly, it requires medical treatment right away.
caused by strep or staph bacteria can lead to toxic shock syndrome. These
bacteria are common and usually don't cause problems. But in rare cases, the toxins enter the bloodstream
and cause a severe
immune reaction. This reaction causes the symptoms of
If you have had TSS, you are more likely to get it again.1, 2
Toxic shock symptoms get
worse quickly and can be deadly within 2 days. Symptoms include:
Other TSS symptoms may include:
Having sudden, severe symptoms
is one of the most important clues that you may have toxic shock syndrome. If you think you have TSS, get medical care right away.
Doctors usually diagnose toxic shock syndrome based on your symptoms. Tests can help show
whether staph or strep bacteria are causing the infection. Tests
you may need include:
Treatment for toxic shock syndrome almost always takes place in a hospital. Treatment includes:
Sometimes surgery is needed if TSS developed after surgery or if the infection is destroying the skin and soft tissue (necrotizing fasciitis).
After having TSS, you may get better in 1 to 2 weeks. But it will take longer if you had major complications.
take steps to prevent TSS:
Learning about toxic shock syndrome:
Preventing toxic shock syndrome:
Que Y-A, Moreillon P (2010). Staphylococcus aureus (including staphylococcal toxic shock). In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2543–2578. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
Ainbinder SW, et al. (2007). Toxic shock syndrome
section of Sexually transmitted diseases and pelvic infections. In AH DeCherney
et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 689–691. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Other Works Consulted
American Public Health Association (2008). Toxic shock syndrome. In DL
Heymann, ed., Control of Communicable Diseases Manual,
19th ed., pp. 576–577. Washington, DC: American Public Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008).
Group A Streptococcal (GAS) Disease. Available online:
Larioza J, Brown RB (2011). Toxic shock syndrome. In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn’s Current Therapy 2011, pp.
88–90. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Low DE (2012). Nonpneumococcal streptococcal infections, rheumatic fever. In L
Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed.,
pp. 1823–1829. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Stevens DL, et al. (2006). Successful treatment of
staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome with linezolid: A case report and in vitro
evaluation of the production of toxic shock syndrome toxin type 1 in the
presence of antibiotics. Clinical Infectious Diseases,
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Dennis L. Stevens, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease
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