Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mike Von Erich battles toxic shock syndrome

     On August 22, 1985 professional wrestler Mike Adkisson (Mike Von Erich) underwent surgery at Brookhaven Hospital in Dallas, TX for a shoulder injury sustained while wrestling on tour in Israel.  He  did well post-operatively and was discharged to home.  However, he was admitted to Baylor University Medical Center  four days later with a high fever.  He was subsequently diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome.

      The term toxic shock syndrome has been used to describe several different clinical conditions.  A number of microorganisms, including Staphylococcus aureus, Group A streptococcus, and  Clostridium sordellii can produce a toxic shock syndrome.

     When a toxic shock syndrome occurs after surgery, it is most often due to Staphylococcus aureus.  S. aureus is normally found on the skin of humans.  If the bacterium passes through the skin barrier defenses and invades surrounding tissue it can produce inflammation and infection.  When a particular exotoxin known as TSST-1 (toxic shock syndrome-1) is released an intense inflammatory reaction can occur.  The syndrome is characterized by fever, hypotension (low blood pressure), rash, and evidence of 3 or more organ systems not functioning properly.  Individuals can become very ill and be at risk of dying.  Approximately 6% of cases that occur after surgery are lethal.  Treatment is with supportive care and antibiotics.

     Although Mike Von Erich did survive this lethal illness, it is believed he never made a complete recovery.  He later committed suicide on April 12, 1987.

Mike Von Erich


  1. MMWR Recomm Rep 1997; 46(RR-10):1.

The medical resource was used in the preparation of this blog.  Photographs are for illustrative purposes only, Wrestling with Death does not claim ownership.

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