Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a life-threatening condition, which occurs in children after sustaining a burn. Often diagnosed retrospectively, many patients may not receive optimal treatment.
The primary objective of this study was to evaluate a severe and complex case of TSS at our unit and subsequently conduct a Preferred Reporting for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses–compliant systematic literature review, to identify cases of postthermal injury TSS and evaluate their presentation and management.
A 9-year-old boy with Down syndrome presented with a 7% total body surface area scald to his back and posterior head. Four days after discharge, he developed a fever. The following day, he deteriorated, becoming stridulous and unresponsive. A working diagnosis of TSS was made. The patient's intensive care stay was arduous with multiple complications, including 2 cardiac arrests.
A Preferred Reporting for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses–compliant systematic literature review was conducted. MEDLINE, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched using key terms “burns, thermal injury, scalds, paediatric, child, infant, neonate, toxic shock syndrome” to identify cases. Two authors independently checked each study against inclusion criteria.
The systematic literature search yielded 9 articles, identifying 40 cases. Ages ranged between 9 months and 8 years. The mean number of days' postburn patients presented with symptoms of TSS was 2.5 days (1–7 days). The most common presenting symptoms were fever (75%), rash (70%), and diarrhea, and/or vomiting (52.5%). Intravenous immunoglobulins were administered in 11 (27.5%) cases.
We have highlighted a case where a possible delayed diagnosis along with the immunodeficiency seen in Down syndrome may have impacted the severity of TSS. The literature review highlighted that a significant proportion of patients do not meet diagnostic criteria.
It is fundamental that appropriate diagnostic and management guidelines are developed. Furthermore, this case highlights the importance of educating patient's carers and health professionals of key symptoms to be wary of postburn.