In this post we will throw some light on the currently prevailing disease called “Tomato Flu ” and if is it something to be scared of?
A little background first.
India has reported 82 cases of Tomato Flu Fever up till July 2022 in children under the age of five according to the medical journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine .This is the official count and the numbers are increasing.
INCIDENCE IN INDIA
The tomato flu was initially reported in the Kollam region of Kerala on May 6, 2022 and later more cases were reported from Anchal, Aryankavu, and Neduvathur areas in Kerala. In addition to Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Odisha have also recorded outbreaks of this disease.
WHAT IS TOMATO FLU?
Tomato Flu is a viral infection and it gets its name because of the appearance of painful, red tomato like blisters all over the body in the infected person along with flu like symptoms.
These blisters may initially look like those caused by the monkeypox virus.
WHAT CAUSES TOMATO FLU ?
Earlier it was believed that Tomato flu was an after-effect of Dengue and Chikungunya fever in children. But now we believe that it is caused by an Enterovirus like Coxsackievirus A-6 and A-16 which is most probably a clinical subtype of the of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD).The HFMD is a mild viral infection, quite common in young children.
HOW DOES TOMATO FLU SPREAD ?
This disease is more common in children under the age of 5 years.
This is a highly contagious disease and spreads through the following means;
1.Touching infected surfaces,
2. Putting infected things into the mouth,
3. Sharing toys, clothes, food and other items with an infected child
4. Possible droplet infection from sneezing and coughing
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TOMATO FLU?
An infected child may have some of the following symptoms
Nausea and/or vomiting
Swelling of joints
A rash consisting of large red and painful blisters limited to the mouth (tongue, gums, and inside of the cheek), palms, and soles. But sometimes the rash involves the buttocks too.
Rare symptoms include,
Shedding of Nails
Fatal encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
HOW CAN WE DIAGNOSE IT?
So far there is no test available for this disease and clinical symptoms or history of contact with an infected person are the only guiding clues.
Blood tests can only rule out other similar diseases like HFMD, Chikangunya and Dengue
HOW CAN WE PROTECT FROM TOMATO FLU?
Currently no vaccines are available for Tomato flu.
We can prevent this viral infection by these simple measures:
Washing hands or sanitize them frequently and specially before eating.
Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
Disinfecting your home
Disinfecting your home and particularly surfaces, such as doorknobs and kitchen counters, can help you lower your risk of contracting the illness.
Wearing PPE or Mask
Masking up helps in avoiding droplet infection from the cough and sneeze of the infected person, recommended for close contacts of the patient.
This flu being a contagious disease , keeping a safe distance of at least 1 meter from an infected person can help in checking the spread.
The infected child should be isolated for one week at least once the fever starts.
TREATMENT OF TOMATO FLU
Tomato flu is a self – limiting disease and not serious in normal people. Unfortunately it can be fatal for the immunocompromised ( person suffering from severe kidney disease, heart disease, Diabetes or cancer etc.).It may also affect children who had a COVID infection in the last six months more deeply.
This disease does not require hospitalization and only needs treatment of symptoms like medicines for cough and fever and to treat the rash. All your child needs besides medicines is rest and plenty of fluids.