Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Toxic Shock Still a Worry for Women

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Toxic Shock Still a Worry for Women

Article excerpt

If you're a woman over 50 like me, you remember the publicity surrounding a deadly spike in Toxic Shock Syndrome cases related to tampon use in the 1980s. One super-absorbent product was pulled from the market; others were modified, and printed warnings became part of every package of tampons you picked up at the drugstore.

The memory of that scary time was fresh enough for me that when my daughter came of age, we went over the literature together. But what about young women now -- do they even glance at the information? When they suddenly develop a high fever, do they know enough to consider the possibility of toxic shock?

Sarasota nursing student Joy Mclean believes too few young women today are familiar with this rare, possibly fatal bacterial infection that is often -- but not always -- related to tampon use. While anyone can contract the sort of staph infection that in a tiny number of cases develops into toxic shock, tampon use is the leading causal factor. But no one, says Mclean, is making sure today's young women know this.

"It's very very interesting," she says. "They haven't heard of it. And if they have, it's stigmatized as to be a dirty thing."

She is trying to spread the word any way she can, after a harrowing trip to the ER April 28 with her 20-year-old daughter.

The young woman had run a fever for two days, and once she felt her pulse Mclean sprang into action.

"I brought my daughter into the hospital because I knew she was dehydrated. At one point, they tried to send us home," Mclean says. Even after an IV delivered sufficient amounts of fluid, her daughter's blood pressure was still dangerously low.

"There was a wonderful nurse there, and she looked me in the eye and said, 'I'm not comfortable either,'" Mclean recalls. More tests were done, and the diagnosis was toxic shock. …

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