Over the 7 years 1985–91, 997 strains of Staphylococcus aureus from 962 patients with diseases other than food poisoning have been tested for the production of enterotoxins and toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST-1) and phage typed. In all, 128 cases could be classified as confirmed or probable toxic shock syndrome (TSS) but a further 199 cases were classified as possible or unconfirmed TSS. In 219 cases, an alternative diagnosis could be supported and 45 cases were classified as sudden infant death syndrome. In 371 cases, insufficient information for classification was available.
Strains of phage group I producing TSST-1 were associated with menstrual TSS. Many menstrual TSS cases were aged less than 20 and were using non-introducer tampons.
When all strains were reviewed, strong associations were observed between TSST-1 production and phage group I strains, enterotoxin B production and group V strains, enterotoxin C and phage-type 95 strains and between enterotoxin A without TSST-1 and phage group III strains.