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Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare, life-threatening complication of certain bacterial infections, specifically (but not exclusively) Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria and group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria. TSS is often associated with tampon use due primarily to its connection to the use of super-absorbent tampons. There has been a decline in occurrences of TSS in menstruating women since the removal of several types of tampons from the market, but it is still a risk associated with tampon use.
While TSS is often associated with tampon use in women, it can affect anyone. Recent surgery and any kind of skin wound increases one's risk. TSS can be fatal, but it is treatable. Treatment for toxic shock syndrome requires hospitalization. In 1980 Procter and Gamble recalled a super absorbent tampon called Rely after it was linked to multiple cases of TSS.