Frequently Asked Questions

What is TSS?

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is an illness that will make you feel severely ill very quickly.

What causes TSS?

TSS is caused by the common bacteria – Staphylococcus aureus – which normally live harmlessly on the skin and in the nose, armpit, groin or vagina of one in every three people. In rare cases certain strains of these bacteria can produce toxins (poisons) that cause TSS.

How rare is TSS?

TSS is extremely rare and most doctors will never even see a case. There are probably around 40 cases of TSS per year in the UK. In extreme cases it may prove fatal and sadly out of the small number of people who fall ill each year, 2-3 die from TSS. [Source: UK Public Health Laboratory Service 1985-1995]

Who can get TSS?

Anyone can get TSS – men, women and children. About half the reported cases of TSS are associated with women using tampons; half result from localised infections, for example following burns, boils, insect bites or following surgery. There is anecdotal information that the risk of TSS may be greater in children and young people because older people are more likely to have the necessary antibodies to protect them from the toxin that causes TSS.

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