In the wake of covid-19 fourth wave across the world, a new virus named tomato flu or tomato fever is sweeping across India especially children below the age of 5 years. A dreadful experience with covid pandemic has cautioned health ministry to control the outbreak and take preventive actions in the early phase.
Beginning with the Kerala, the virus has spread across 3 more Indian states including Tamil Nadu, Haryana, and Odisha. An explanation for infection picking up in children is the re-opening of schools, mentions Dr. Asawathyraj, scientist at Institute of Advanced Virology, who has been working with the infection. Doctors recommend to keep an eye out for viruses in circulation in the community and already the testing for viral infections has increased over the last five years with virology labs being set up across the country.
What exactly is Tomato Flu?
Experts and clinical reports suggest that it’s a clinical variant of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) caused by enteroviruses like Coxsackievirus A-6 and A-16. It is characterised by joint pain, fever and red, tomato-like rashes and is accompanied by other viral symptoms such as diarrhoea, dehydration, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Tomato flu is believed to have no links with coronavirus, dengue, chikungunya and monkeypox. Since the outbreak is in its initial stage, there are different medications being tried, however, proper hygiene and sanitation has been recommended by health advisory.
Why is it named Tomato?
‘Tomato’ is due to the red and painful blisters that appear throughout and grow gradually to the size of a tomato.
Tomato flu symptoms are similar to Dengue and Chikungunya and experts believe it’s the after-effect of Chikungunya. It include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, dehydration, swelling of joints, body aches and common influenza-like symptoms.
Causes aren’t yet known and clinical investigations are still going on to understand.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine available for the disease. A prescription of paracetamol for fever is being recommended to the infected ones.
Steps to prevent
- Maintain good personal hygiene
- Maintain physically distance from the affected
- Drink boiled water
- Increase the intake of juices and liquid content
- Take enough rest
Tomato flu is a self-limiting illness, meaning it tends to resolve spontaneously without treatment. Children are at increased risk of exposure to tomato flu as viral infections are common in this age group but even older adults could get risk if the outbreak is not controlled in the early stage. Health officials have urged people to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the outbreak. The best preventive solution is believed to be the maintenance of proper hygiene and sanitization of the surrounding necessities and environment as well as preventing the infected child from sharing toys, clothes, food, or other items with other children.