Toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare, often life-threatening illness that develops suddenly after a bacterial infection and can rapidly affect several different organ systems, including the lungs, kidneys, and liver. Because toxic shock syndrome progresses quickly, immediate medical treatment is needed.

Toxic shock syndrome can be caused by Streptococcus pyogenes (group A strep) or Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria. Symptoms of TSS usually include high fever, vomiting and diarrhea, a rash that looks like a sunburn, and signs of very low blood pressure and shock, including confusion, fainting, or dizziness.

Toxic shock syndrome can affect men, women, and children. The most familiar cases of TSS are related to tampon use, but TSS may also be a rare complication of chickenpox, flu and other respiratory infections, and wounds or injuries to the skin.

Last Updated: March 3, 2008

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Dennis L. Stevens, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases

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