Some bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes produce toxins, which act as superantigens, meaning that these toxins (antigens) activate an usually large number of immune cells at the same time unlike other antigens do.
This extensive activation of immune cells leads to production of relatively large amounts of chemicals that mediate inflammation, the results of which include fever, rash and a bright red tongue that resembles a strawberry – strawberry tongue.
Diseases associated with superantigens include, toxic shock syndrome (Staphylococcus aureus toxin), scarlet fever (Streptococcus pyogenes toxin) and Kawasaki disease (an illness involving inflammation of medium sized arteries).
Solanki LS, Srivastava N, Singh S: Superantigens: a brief review with special emphasis on dermatologic diseases. Dermatol Online J, 2008 14(2):3. Go to reference