Is Tomato Flu Linked To COVID-19 Or Monkeypox? Here's What Centre's Advisory Says

Tomato Flu is a self-limiting illness and it mostly targets young children aged 1-10 years and immune-compromised adults and no specific drug exists to treat it.

Is Tomato Flu Linked To COVID-19 Or Monkeypox? Here's What Centre's Advisory Says

The Centre has issued an advisory to states on Tomato Flu also known as HFMD (Hand Foot & Mouth Disease), after India reported more than 82 flu cases in children. Centre stated that it's a self-limiting illness and it mostly targets young children aged 1-10 years and immune-compromised adults and no specific drug exists to treat it.

Tomato Flu was first identified in Kollam, Kerala on May 6, 2022. Till now, the endemic viral illness has triggered an alert in the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. To date, apart from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Odisha, no other regions in India have reported the disease in their State/UT by the virus.

As per the advisory, the Tomato Flu virus shows symptoms similar to other viral infections (fever, fatigue, body aches & rashes on the skin); the virus is not at all related to SARS-CoV-2, monkeypox, dengue, and/or chikungunya.

Tomato Flu is a viral disease. The name "Tomato Flu" comes from the main symptom of this disease, the tomato-shaped blisters on several body parts. The blisters start as red-coloured small blisters and resemble tomatoes when they enlarge. Rashes on the skin can also lead to skin irritation.

As with other viral infections, symptoms also include, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, dehydration, swelling of joints, body aches, and common influenza-like symptoms, the Union Health Ministry said.

Meanwhile, HFMD is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth, and a skin rash. It begins with mild fever, poor appetite, malaise, and often a sore throat. One or two days after the fever begins, small red spots appear which changes to blister and then to ulcers. The sores are usually located on the tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks, palms and soles.

In children with these symptoms, molecular and serological tests are done for diagnosis of dengue, chikungunya, zika virus, varicella-zoster virus, and herpes; once these viral infections are ruled out, a diagnosis of tomato flu is considered.

Tomato Flu is a self-limiting infectious disease as the signs and symptoms resolve after a few days. It seems the disease is a clinical variant of the so-called hand-foot-mouth disease that is common in school-going children. Infants and young children are also prone to this infection through the use of nappies, touching unclean surfaces as well as putting things directly into the mouth.

HFMD occurs mainly in children under 10 years of age, but it can occur in adults too. There are no disease-specific medications available. Treatment is similar to other viral infections i.e. isolation, rest, plenty of fluids and a hot water sponge for relief of irritation and rashes. Supportive therapy of paracetamol for fever and body ache and other symptomatic treatments are required.

The best prevention is the maintenance of proper hygiene & sanitization of the surrounding. Isolation should be followed for 5-7 days from the onset of any symptom to prevent the spread of infection to other children or adults. It is crucial to maintain proper hygiene and sanitization of the surrounding necessities and environment as well as to prevent the infected child from sharing toys, clothes, food, or other items with other non-infected children.

As yet, no antiviral drugs or vaccines are available for the treatment or prevention of tomato flu. Further follow-up and monitoring for serious outcomes and sequelae are needed to better understand the need for potential treatments.

(With ANI Inputs)

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