The parents of a British teenager are spreading awareness of toxic shock syndrome after their daughter died from the condition as a result of tampon use.
Jemma-Louise Roberts, 13, of Manchester, England, began feeling ill while on a family vacation in 2014, Manchester Evening News reported in September. Doctors initially believed she had a stomach virus, and advised her family to keep her away from hospitals.
She was later rushed to a local hospital after her condition took a turn for the worse. It was then that she was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome, a condition caused by bacterial infection associated with tampon use.
A competitive swimmer, Jemma-Louise had reportedly begun using tampons so she could continue training through her menstrual period.
The teen was transferred to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and later to Alder Hey Children's Hospital for further treatment.
On March 1, 2014, a week after her initial diagnosis, Jemma-Louise died of a brain hemorrhage while on a life support machine. Blood tests conducted on the teen before her death showed that the Stapholycoccus bacteria, which is associated with toxic shock and sepsis, was present in her bloodstream.
Jemma-Louise's family is now hoping their daughter's death will help raise public awareness of the dangers of toxic shock syndrome.
"TSS used to be talked about in the 80s, but you never hear it now," the teen's mother, Diane Roberts, told Manchester Evening News.
"If it can save just one person it will be worth it."
Jemma-Louise was an active member of her school's concert band and flute choir in addition to being a competitive swimmer in breast stroke.
"Her passion was teaching swimming to younger children," Diane said about her daughter. "She always had a smile on her face and loved helping others."
The teen's friends and family, including her father, Tony, and brother, Joseph, have raised more than $45,000 for Alder Hey Children's Hospital in her memory.
Toxic shock syndrome from tampon use affects around 1 out of 100,000 women between the ages of 13 and 24 every year, according to data gathered between 2000 and 2003 as part of a study published in medical journal PLoS One in 2011.
Symptoms of toxic shock include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever and a body rash. The condition can lead to organ failure if left untreated.
Aaron Glatt, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said the risk of the disease should not scare teenagers out of using tampons, but advises they use products with lower absorbency.
"Certainly tampons are safe to use," Glatt told Yahoo News. "At the same time, there is a potential risk of toxic shock syndrome with the more absorbent, heavier tampons because people think they can leave them in for longer periods of time."