Pyrogenic exotoxins A, B, and C produced by group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (Streptococcus pyogenes) may cause a syndrome characterized by fever, rash, desquamation, hypotension, and multi-organ-system dysfunction. This syndrome, the streptococcal toxic shock-like syndrome (TSLS), has a rapid and fulminant course closely resembling the staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome (TSS) caused by the staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST-1). The recent recognition of this syndrome is thought to stem from the appearance of more virulent strains of streptococci that have a greater tendency to produce potent exotoxins than prior strains. During the past 6 years, the authors have treated six patients with TSLS; three of these patients have presented recently. The sites of streptococcal infection associated with the development of the syndrome are frequently in soft tissue and skin. Early diagnosis, treatment with penicillin, and radical operative debridement are required.
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