THE family of a musical teenager who died of Toxic Shock Syndrome have started a campaign to raise awareness among the public, starting with school pupils.
Natasha Scott-Falber was 14-years-old when she passed away on February 14, 2013. The teenager from Caerwent was first diagnosed with Norovirus and was thought to have died of suspected septicaemia before it was revealed that Toxic Shock Syndrome was the cause of death.
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare condition which kills two to three people in the UK every year and effects around 40 people. The family are working with Public Health Wales to bring the symptoms of TSS to light and how to bring the topic into schools and lessons about puberty.
Mandy Scott, 52, Natasha's mother said: "We want to get the symptoms out there. The problem is that the symptoms are similar to many other illnesses.
"I knew about it - I talked to Tash about it when she said she wanted to start using tampons. The campaign that I remember about TSS is that it was connected with leaving a tampon in too long, that's the message I got when I was younger. This wasn't the case with Tash it was the insertion."
Mike Scott, 60, a musician, Natasha's step-father, said: "Doctors haven't got much to go on. There isn't enough information or research on this. It's not only women and girls that need to be spoken to about this but it's men and boys as well."
The family hope to raise £5,000 to put towards raising the profile of TSS, with a fundraising page called Natasha's Toxic Shock Syndrome Awareness Campaign. The couple hope to put the money towards producing cards with symptoms and advice on TSS.
According to Toxic Shock Syndrome Information Service (TSSIS), TSS is caused by a common bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, which normally live harmlessly on the skin and in the nose, armpit, groin or vagina which in rare cases certain strains of bacteria can produce toxins.
Mrs Scott said: "It wasn't until I started speaking out that it really struck me that periods aren't something that is easily talked about. It is a bit of a taboo subject and people are embarrassed by it."
Around half the reported cases of TSS are associated with women using tampons according to TSSIS but it can also be caused by infections following burns, boils, insect bites or following surgery. The condition can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early.
Mrs Scott said: "A GP came to visit Tash at her father's house. I think all GP's would have said the same as at that time the Dell Primary School was closed because of the Norovirus - it made sense.
"I'm sure the GP was devastated when he found out. If the campaign had been done the year before Tasha could have been saved. We can't bring Tash back but we can try to stop it happening to someone else."
Natasha was a pupil at Wyedean School and was involved in several clubs including the musical youth theatre company WAWWA, Angel School of Dance and Wyedean Gospel Choir.
The family including Tasha's brother Daniel, 19, used to sing together in a gospel band and went to Uganda with Watoto, a holistic care programme to build homes and villages for orphans.
Mrs Scott said: "We would love to go back there and build a house in memory of Tash, she loved it there. Tash died a few days before she turned 15, she had a lovely boyfriend and we are so glad she got the chance to experience love."
The symptoms of TSS normally begin with a sudden high fever and other symptoms then develop which can include vomiting, a sunburn-like skin rash, with the whites of the eyes becoming red/pink, diarrhoea, fainting or feeling faint, muscle aches, dizziness and confusion.
The family along with Marlow Vets, where Mrs Scott works, have organised a sponsored walk across the old Severn bridge on February 16 starting at the vets in Chepstow at 11am. To donate visit www.fundrazr.com/campaigns/fg785