An overnight school trip last year turned tragic for a Canadian teen, and now a coroner has confirmed why. People reports 16-year-old Sara Manitoski, who was found unresponsive in her cabin bed after friends came back from breakfast, died of toxic shock syndrome, with the coroner's conclusion based on symptoms of the condition that Sara exhibited, as well as evidence of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria found on a tampon in her body. Per the coroner's report, Sara had told others on the trip she didn't feel well on March 14, 2017, complaining of stomach cramps, the Comox Valley Record reports. She went into her cabin for the night close to 10pm, and when her cabin mates returned from breakfast around 7:30 the next morning, she was still in bed, her alarm going off. CPR by teachers and paramedics was unsuccessful in resuscitating her.
Per the Mayo Clinic, TSS is caused when Staphylococcus aureus bacteria creates toxins, causing high fever, seizures, and even death. Women are most at risk, especially young women who may not have built up antibodies, but men, kids, and postmenopausal women are also vulnerable. Other risk factors include burns or cuts on one's skin or a viral infection like the flu. Still, the condition is extremely rare—only 40 US cases were reported in 2016, per People—and for menstruating women, there are ways to prevent it, including swapping tampons out every few hours so bacteria doesn't have a chance to breed. "There is such little education on this and it needs to be brought to light," Sara's sister said on Facebook in December, per Fox News. "Such an unnecessary and tragic thing to happen to such an amazing young lady." (This model has made it her mission to spread the word on TSS.)