A truly heartbreaking story about the death of a seemingly healthy 16-year-old young woman has garnered attention due to the cause of death. Sara Manitoski died in March 2017 while on an overnight camping trip on Hornby Island in British Columbia. The vibrant young woman was found unresponsive in her cabin after complaining about stomach cramps the night before. Now, her family is sharing her story once again, after a coroner's report confirmed that Sara died of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
Sara's sister Carli shared a devastating post on Facebook, after the family got the coroner's report in December. While TSS was the suspected cause of death, it wasn't until the report came out that they knew for sure.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is the result of toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria or group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria. TSS is often associated with tampon use, and is commonly seen in women who use tampons. But it can happen with any age group or gender. Both types of bacteria that cause TSS are already present in the body, but they become dangerous and life-threatening when given a warm, moist place to thrive (like a tampon). The bacteria release toxins that can lead to renal failure, shock, and even death.
TSS is extremely treatable, if found early enough. Common symptoms include a sudden high fever, low blood pressure, a rash that resembles a sunburn (especially on the palms of your hands), seizures, and headaches. The condition is treatable in early stages, but even in later stages, survival is possible.
As scary as TSS is, it's important to remember that it is still fairly uncommon. It affects less than 2 out of 100,000 women in the U.S., and fatalities are rare. To minimize your risk of contracting TSS, it's important to practice safe tampon use. Stick to low-absorbency tampons whenever possible, and make sure to change your tampon every few hours. Tampon companies often advertise their products as being great for overnight use, but it's better to be safe than sorry and sleep with a pad instead. And if you exhibit any of the symptoms associated with TSS, seek medical attention immediately.