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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.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Dennis L. Stevens, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease
Current as of February 23, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 23, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.