The World's First Vaccine for Toxic Shock Syndrome is in the Works

In its first phase of clinical trials, the new vaccine proved to be safe, effective, and yielded virtually zero side effects.

by Arielle Pardes
Jun 16 2016, 12:03am

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A team of researchers from the Medical University of Vienna's Department of Clinical Pharmacology has developed the world's first vaccine for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). It would provide immunity from the infection for up to five years.

TSS is caused by an overgrowth of a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause fevers, fatigue, vomiting, and in serious cases, death. Half of TSS cases involve a person with a compromised immune system, like someone on dialysis. The other half of cases are related to tampon use.

While TSS is rare—there were only 26 cases reported in the United States last year—the infection can be devastating. In 2015, we broke the story of Lauren Wasser, a model who lost her leg and part of one foot after she contracted TSS from wearing a tampon. That same year, a string of teenagers in Michigan were hospitalized and a 13-year-old girl in the UK died from the infection, also from wearing tampons.

The new vaccine, which requires an initial shot plus a booster, proved to be safe, effective, and yielded virtually zero side effects in the first phrase of clinical trials. (The full findings are published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.) The research team is currently recruiting volunteers for the second phase of clinical trials.

"We are well on the way to having a vaccine that prevents this serious disease," said Dr. Martha Eibl, one of the study's authors, in a statement. "However, it will still take some years before it is in clinical use."

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