Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS, Staphylococcal)


In May 1980, toxic-shock syndrome (TSS) became a newly recognized illness characterized by high fever, sunburn-like rash, desquamation, hypotension, and abnormalities in multiple organ systems. This illness is caused by staphylococcal toxin production at the mucosal surface, and does not require invasive staphylococcal infection.

TSS was recognized because numerous cases were reported to CDC; nearly all occurred in women during menstruation; and were strongly linked to the use of high-absorbency "Rely" Tampons. These were withdrawn from the market in September 1980; manufacturers reduced the absorbency of their products; and the FDA instituted standardized absorbency labeling of tampons.

In addition to menstrual toxic shock, post-surgical toxic shock cases are reported. Rates of non-menstrual toxic shock have not changed over time, but menstrual toxic shock has declined substantially since first recognized.

Vaccination & Prevention

There is no vaccine to prevent S. aureus infections. To avoid menstrual TSS, women should use the lowest absorbency product that works, and maintain good overall hygiene.

More about:

Toxic Shock Syndrome (CDC)