Scientists have discovered what could be the world’s first effective vaccine against Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a life-threatening disease that has been linked with tampon use in some women.
The vaccine has been successfully tested in a Phase 1 clinical trial by researchers from MedUni Vienna and the results published earlier this week in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
A group of 46 men and women took part in the trial. The vaccine was administered to them in injection form - similar to a tetanus vaccination – with little to no side effects. With immunisation lasting for around five years or more, this could be a game changer for women who are susceptible to the disease. Those at risk could, in future, be identified via a blood test which determines whether they are short of the antibodies required to fight TSS.
"We are well on the way to having a vaccine that prevents this serious disease. However, it will still take some years before it is in clinical use," said Professor Martha Eibl who collaborated on the trial. A larger Phase II trial is now underway.
What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?
TSS first appeared in the 1980s. It is caused by bacterial toxins which cause circulatory and organ failure, mainly affecting people with compromised immune systems - such as those on dialysis, recovering from a heart operation, suffering from chronic illness or liver disease. A significant number of cases presented are from women during their menstrual cycle.
What are the Toxic Shock Syndrome symptoms?
While cases of TSS are rare, it is important to be aware of the signs. If the following symptoms occur and you are wearing a tampon, remove it and consult a doctor. Don’t worry: there are many explanations for experiencing these ailments, but by arming yourself with the right information you stand the best chance of early diagnosis.
- Sudden high fever (above 38.9C/102F)
- Flu-like symptoms including headache, muscle aches, sore throat and cough
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fainting or feeling faint
- Dizziness or confusion
How can I prevent Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Millions of girls and women around the world use tampons every month without incident. But there are a number of things you can do to decrease your risk of contracting TSS. The NHS advises that you change your tampons regularly – according to the manufacturer’s instructions – and always wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon.
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