The victim, Sara Manitoski, was in grade 11 student at Vanier Secondary School when she took part in a sleepover at Hornby’s Tribune Bay in March 2017.
That night, Manitoski was “heard breathing rapidly and shallowly in the middle of the night for a short period of time and then stopped,” according to a British Columbia Coroners Service report released on Monday. The next morning, her friends left the cabin for breakfast thinking that she was still sleeping. When they returned to the cabin, Manitoski’s alarm was going off, but she wouldn’t wake up.
Staff and students, along with emergency responders, attempted CPR on Manitoski but she did not recover.
Now, over a year later, the coroner has determined that she died of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), based on the strain of Staphylococcus aureus found on a tampon that was in her body. The report states that she also had other signs of TSS, but notes that tampons are not the only cause of the bacterial infection.
Toxic shock syndrome is extremely rare — in 2016 there were just 40 reported cases in the United States, and about half were not related to menstruating women. But when TSS does occur, it develops from toxins already present in the body, according to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin - an ob-gyn from Yale University
Dr. Heather Currie, the spokesperson for the U.K.-based Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told Newsweek: "For reasons that are still not understood, women who use tampons, particularly tampons that are designed to be super absorbent, are at a slightly higher risk of developing toxic shock syndrome."
Women under the age of 30 are most at risk because they have not yet developed the antibodies to the toxin which causes the condition. Yet, while it is commonly associated with tampon use, it can affect anyone of any age, including men.
"Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection that invades the body’s bloodstream and releases poisonous toxins. The toxins can damage tissue, including the skin and organs, and can disturb many vital organ functions," said Dr. Currie.
“Evidence suggests that if a tampon is left in a woman’s vagina for some time, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Woman are recommended to change their tampon frequently, every four to eight hours.”
Toxic shock syndrome escalates quickly and can kill if not immediately treated. Symptoms include a temperature of 102.F or above, flu-like symptoms such as a headache, chills, sore throat and cough. Nausea, diarrhea, a rash resembling sunburn, bright red lips, eyes and tongue, dizziness, difficulty breathing and feeling confused and drowsy are also symptoms. (Cre: Newsweek)
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