A new disease is spreading in the country called tomato flu. It is generally infecting children below 5 years of age. The first case was reported in Kerala and since then it has started spreading to other parts of the country majorly Haryana and Tamil Nadu. Out of hundred cases that were reported 82 were children below 5 years of age. It is a cause of concern for health experts as it rapidly spreads among children. According to research and studies if it is not controlled, it can spread to adults as well. It is rare in adults as they have a well-developed immune system. On the other hand children don’t have a strong immune system and thus are more prone to the disease. It is a self-limiting disease but needs proper care. The studies came out and concluded that the exact cause and treatment is not known thus we have to follow preventive measures. Being parents you should be in regular contact with a paediatrician. According to data tomato flu is rising and can lead to another pandemic!
Can Tomato flu be the next pandemic?
Tomato flu is a rare viral disease and results in tomato-like blisters which are red and painful. It is also known as hand-foot-mouth disease. The blisters can be seen all over the body and can grow up to the size of tomatoes. Experts believe that using such names can be misleading as people might believe that it comes from tomatoes. There is a long debate among scientists about the cause of this disease. The probable cause of this disease could be enteroviruses like coxsackie A-17. This virus shares many characteristics with polio virus. It is also believed that this flu is caused by intestinal viruses. The debate is still going on among the scientists to find out the exact cause of this. The virus is seen in an endemic state this means that the virus has spread in less area. But if not controlled and managed properly it can turn into a pandemic. The other cause could be seen as an after-effect of dengue or chikungunya fever rather than mere viral infection. It can spread easily through touch. Proper precautions should be taken for the same. Studies have shown that tomato flu is following the path of COVID-19. Although the disease is not fatal but is contagious this means it can spread easily from person to person. The first case was discovered in may in India till today it’s been on rise. The only way to control this is proper preventive measures because as covid we don’t have proper medication. This disease has to be controlled on an immediate basis otherwise reports have shown that it can spread to adults as well. Covid and tomato flu have similarity with the kind of population they infect. Both of them infect immuno-compromised populations. Another similarity is with the symptoms. The diagnosis of both the diseases is difficult because symptoms can be general as well. Families around the infected person are always at risk. Tomato flu is even more difficult to deal with because it’s mainly infecting the kids of today specially below 5 years. This population of the country can’t be kept under control by mere instructions.
What are the symptoms of Tomato flu?
The symptoms are similar to COVID-19 like fatigue, fever and bodyache. These are initial symptoms seen in a child. Other symptoms are close to chikungunya where the child might experience rashes and intense pain in the joints. Skin irritation due to rashes is another common problem. Tomato like blisters are seen in the mouth as well. This decreases the appetite of the child. Generally it is found that disease is common in immuno-compromised children. Since it is caused by the virus there are some classical symptoms as well. This includes diarrhoea, swelling of joints, body aches and common influenza like symptoms. The other symptoms include abdominal pain, discoloration of legs and hands.Since the symptoms are similar to dengue and chikungunya, they have to be ruled out by proper screening. Till now the cases are diagnosed by simple appearance only, this is because of the tomato like appearance of the blisters. If in case the paediatrician is not sure, a biopsy of the rash is done to confirm the test. Many reports suggest that tomato flu is entering India and can turn into the next wave of covid! As we know that covid was not deadly like small pox but can cause harm to human life. There are only propositions and assumptions related to tomato flu.
How long can it affect your child and preventive measures?
The exact duration of the flu is not known. It goes for a week but it can go beyond that also. Many studies believe that it is an after-effect of dengue and chikungunya, so in this case it can go longer. If it’s serious, consult your child’s paediatrician. It is highly contagious but not fatal. Being parents you might feel that you are in a fix! But you along with a child specialist can help make it easy for the child. Follow the right preventive measures and stay calm!
Till now there is no specific drug for the flu. Symptomatic treatment exists. Paediatric doctors are following the medication that are prescribed for dengue and chikungunya. The long term effects of the flu are still not known. But the world has some prerequisite from the covid and that is prevention is better than cure. We have taken proper measures to stop the spread because the next target is adults! Recently the government of India laid some preventative measures for the flu. This includes:
– If your child is going to school, make sure to educate your child about the signs and symptoms of the disease. Interactive sessions in the school can really help. Many experts are conducting online consultations for children as well as parents.
– If your child is suffering from the flu make sure to isolate him from the surroundings to prevent the spread. Intake of plenty of fluids and proper rest can help in speedy recovery.
-Hot water bath will give relief from rashes. Do visit the paediatrician on regular basis. Isolation should be for 5-7 days from the onset of the disease.
-Maintain proper hygiene and sanitization around the children especially in play areas and schools. Avoid sharing toys and clothes. A mere touch can be fatal!
-Ask your child not to hug other children if they have fever or any kind of rash. Make sure that these precautions should be taken by your child. In case your child doesn’t understand, ask a child specialist to explain to him.
-Always carry a handkerchief and sanitizer. If your child has a runny nose or cough talk to a paediatric doctor and make sure your child is well hydrated.
-If your child has low immunity, make sure vitamin-C is included in the diet. Moreover a balanced diet can boost immunity. Right amount of balanced diet and exercise can help fight this virus.
-If you observe continuous fever and rashes/blisters on the skin, visit the paediatrician. Don’t rub or break the blisters. Use warm water for bathing.
The Health advisory of India clearly mentioned that there is no vaccine for tomato flu. Even in the times of COVID the vaccine came out much later. The only way to prevent the spread is taking proper preventive measures.