Sad New Details About A 30-Year-Old Woman's Double Amputation After Contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome

Photo: gofundme
What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome? Details About TSS Symptoms And Anna Norquist's Double Amputation After Contracting The Illness
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What is toxic shock syndrome? TSS symptoms behind the complication are the cause of a 30-year-old's recent double amputation.

“She’s a beautiful person, she has a fighting spirit. None of the doctors expected her to survive and she is remarkable.”

This is what Gordon Norquist told Fox 59 on Wednesday about his daughter Anna Norquist, who has undergone 10 surgeries in the past few days after contracting TSS. She has had her right arm and left leg amputated, and will have her left hand amputated once she is considered stable enough.

Anna took a quick three-day weekend trip to Chicago for a concert on Dec. 14. She drove home on Sunday feeling under the weather.

“She … thought she was getting flu-like symptoms,” Gordon said. “Then, by Monday, she was fighting for her life.”

Doctors believe the 30-year-old’s body became infected with Streptococcus, the bacteria that causes strep throat. Gordon said they also believe it first entered the right arm, though they can never know for sure.

What they do know, however, is that it all started with toxic shock syndrome.

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Anna is expected to be in the hospital for four to six months. Her family wrote on their GoFundMe page, “At best, she will have multiple surgeries and multiple amputations. They hope she will make a full recovery."

So what happened to Anna Norquist? Here are the details about toxic shock syndrome, which is not an issue of the past.

What is toxic shock syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, is a rare complication of certain bacterial infections that can affect anyone that has open skin wounds or recently had surgery, but about half of TSS cases via Staphylococci bacteria (a type of staph infection) happen to women of menstruating age, according to Mayo Clinic.

This detail is important because of what toxic shock syndrome is most commonly associated with: tampons. Specifically, super absorbent tampons.

In Anna's case, it's believed that she contracted TSS from strep bacteria.

How do tampons cause toxic shock syndrome?

In 2016, The Washington Post reported that tampons that contributed to the rise of TSS in the 1970s, leading to nearly 5,300 cases from 1979-1996, have been off the shelves for years. However in recent years, it appears the number of cases of TSS have started rising.

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Continued usage of superabsorbent tampons during heavy periods, whether it be from the same tampon being left in for longer than eight hours or inserting large absorbent tampons multiple times, can lead to TSS.

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The vagina already contains bacteria, but the “good” kind to keep it clean and healthy; add a tampon long past its due date filled with menstrual fluid, and/or a damaged vaginal wall from repeatedly using absorbent tampons, and the “bad” bacteria can shuffle into the perfect environment for it to flourish and infect the body.

What are the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome?

Mayo Clinic listed these symptoms as possible signs of toxic shock syndrome:

  • A sudden high fever
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • A rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on your palms and soles
  • Confusion
  • Muscle aches
  • Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat
  • Seizures
  • Headaches

How to prevent toxic shock syndrome:

Read the labels on boxes of tampons carefully. Use low absorbency tampons. Change tampons every four to eight hours. Alternate with sanitary napkins. And, of course, always wash your hands when changing tampons.

Also be aware of any tampon recalls: regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek tampons were recalled on Dec. 12 following reports of the products coming apart during removal, meaning tampon pieces were left in the body.

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Alison Cerri is an editorial intern at YourTango. When she's not writing, she can be found on a run or at rugby practice. Follow her on Instagram.