5 Things You Should Know About Toxic Shock Syndrome

5 Things You Should Know About Toxic Shock Syndrome

By Courtney Fox

Although it is extremely rare, toxic shock syndrome hit home this month when a Greenville teenager fell ill with the infection. The 15-year-old girl was in critical condition, but is now expected to make a full recovery. Since the syndrome is rare, many people might not know about it toxic shock syndrome. This list is composed of basic facts everyone should know about toxic shock syndrome.

  1. What is it?

Toxic shock syndrome is an uncommon bacterial infection caused by staph or strep bacteria. The symptoms are flu-like, with nausea, headache, and high fever.  A sunburn-like rash can also occur.

  1. What causes it?

The staph bacterium is the most common source of toxic shock syndrome.

Today, about half of all toxic shock syndrome cases are linked to tampon use. This number has gone down since the 1970s when toxic shock syndrome was more prevalent due to a lack of knowledge.

Girls can develop the rare syndrome from having tampons in for too many hours or using them too many days in a row. Tampons should be changed every 4-8 hours.

  1. Can men develop the infection?

Although it is linked to tampon use, men are not immune to toxic shock syndrome. Since the staph bacterium is the main source, anyone with a staph infection can develop toxic shock syndrome.

Hand washing is a good prevention strategy since staph bacteria are often carried on hands.

  1. How rare is it?

Toxic shock syndrome occurs within 1 and 100,000 people. To put that in perspective, there are approximately 50,000 undergraduate students that attend Michigan State University. It is rare, but can be life-threatening.

  1. There is a cure!

Just because the infection is curable does not mean it should be taken lightly. It is important to seek medical attention right away if you have the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome. The infection is very serious and victims can end up in the intensive care unit.



Hirsch, L. (2014). Toxic shock syndrome. Helen Devos Children’s Hospital. Retrieved from


Sell, S. (2016, Jan. 19). Greenville teen fighting rare toxic shock syndrome. WZZM 13. Retrieved

from http://www.wzzm13.com/news/greenville-teen-fighting-rare-toxic-shock-syndrome/22037778

Courtney Fox is interning with SCHA-MI while pursuing a degree in Social Relations and Policy at Michigan State University. After college, she hopes to remain in the education field to help better our public schools.

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