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According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin has experienced five cases of toxic shock syndrome since July 2022 — the largest amount of cases reported in over a decade. 

Toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, is a rare, serious illness resulting from certain types of bacterial infections. It can affect any individual and be caused by the use of tampons, surgery and skin wounds. 

Four of Wisconsin’s cases were linked to super-absorbent tampon usage in teenage females. In an average year, Wisconsin records one or zero TSS cases. There have been no reported deaths.  

Symptoms include sudden fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, muscle aches, low blood pressure and shock with multi-organ dysfunction. 

State Health Officer Paula Tran instructed, “It’s important for those who use tampons to use the lowest absorbency, change their tampon every 4-6 hours, and avoid using tampons overnight.”

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Wisconsin Department Of Health Services: DHS Monitoring Increase in Toxic Shock Syndrome Cases

Mayo Clinic: Toxic shock syndrome

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Erin Gretzinger joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism and French major at UW-Madison and will graduate in spring 2023. Erin previously worked for the Wisconsin State Journal as a reporting intern and served as the 2021-22 editor-in-chief at The Badger Herald. She is a recipient of the Jon Wolman Scholarship, the Sigrid Schultz Scholarship and the Joseph Sicherman Award Fund for her academic and reporting work.