LIFESTYLE
22/09/2015 08:11 BST | Updated 22/09/2015 08:59 BST

Toxic Shock Syndrome Symptoms: Mum Of Teen Who Died After Using Tampons Wants To Raise Awareness

The mum of a teenager who died from sepsis while on her period wants others to learn about the dangers of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

Jemma-Louise Roberts was reportedly misdiagnosed with the winter vomiting bug Norovirus when she suffered from sickness and diarrhoea while on a family holiday in February 2014.

But after the 13-year-old's condition deteriorated and she was rushed to hospital, doctors diagnosed the her with TSS.

According to the NHS, TSS is a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. There are around 40 cases reported each year in the UK, half of which are associated with women using tampons.

Jemma-Louise underwent blood tests in hospital that showed the presence of staphylococcus bacteria, linked to both TSS and sepsis. She died a week later at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

Jemma-Louise Roberts

Jemma-Louise was a keen competitive swimmer, so she began to use tampons so her periods would not interfere with training.

Her mum, Diane, now wants to raise awareness about TSS and its association with tampons by sharing Jemma-Louise's story.

"TSS used to be talked about in the eighties but you never hear it now," she told Manchester Evening News.

"If it can save just one more person it will be worth it. My husband had never heard of TSS - if one dad reads this and his daughter falls ill, it could save her life."

Jemma-Louise with mum, Diane

The NHS website states: "For reasons that are still not understood, a significant proportion of (TSS) cases occur in women who are on their period and using a tampon, particularly tampons that are designed to be 'super absorbent'."

But Tracy Stewart, director of the Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association (AHPMA) - an independent body that carries out research on items such as tampons, nappies and incontinence pads - says that "there's no proven link between tampon use and toxic shock syndrome" and that it can actually affect anyone.

"What we do know is that women should be aware of this in relation to any internally-worn device," she previously told HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"We know that there are cases related to internal contraception, we know there are cases associated with child birth and so it's wrong to say that one type of product can cause this."

TSS can also occur as a result of an infected boil, insect bite or wound. Some cases are associated with skin damage from a burn or scald, which allows the bacteria to enter the body and release toxins.

The symptoms of TSS usually begin with a sudden high fever. Flu-like symptoms including headache, muscle aches, sore throat, a cough, sickness and diarrhoea are other warning signs.

As well as sharing Jemma-Louise's story to raise awareness about TSS, friends and family have raised over £33,000 for Alder Hey hospital, through a series of fundraising activities including fun runs and endurance swims.

To support their fundraising, visit JustGiving.

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