Hand Foot And Mouth Disease: All About The Rare Tomato Flu In India

  • 25 Aug 2022

On May 6, 2022, the Kollam district of Kerala reported its first case of tomato flu; as of July 26, 2022, the local government hospitals had documented the infection in more than 82 children under the age of five. Anchal, Aryankavu, and Neduvathur are the other Kerala regions that have been impacted. The Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD), a clinical variant for tomato flu, has now reached Tamil Nadu, Haryana, and Odisha. Let's read more about the Tomato flu outbreak in India.

What Is Tomato Flu?

This frequent infectious and contagious viral illness primarily affects people with weakened immune systems and children between the ages of one and five. The sickness affects the mouth, hand, and foot. Tomato flu in youngsters may be a complication of Dengue fever or Chikungunya rather than a viral illness. Tomato flu symptoms include body aches, skin irritation, fever, vomiting, joint swelling, and others that are comparable to Dengue and Chikungunya as per the Lancet study. 

What Does Tomato Have To Do With Tomato Flu?

There are urban legends claiming that tomatoes and the flu have some connection. However, the red, uncomfortable blisters that develop all over and progressively enlarge to the size of a tomato are the reason it is given the name "Tomato."

What Are The Symptoms of Tomato Flu?

  • Skin irritation: It is one of the most common symptoms of a Tomato Flu-infected person.
  • Discoloration: Legs and hands get discolored and slightly unidentifiable.
  • Fatigue and tiredness: While fatigue can be common for people who travel a lot, fatigue can be a health risk.
  • Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea: While these symptoms are also common, they can affect your overall health.
  • Coughing, fever, sneezing or runny nose: These symptoms are quite common in coronavirus as well.
  • Joint pain and body ache: A Tomato virus-infected person would have difficulty moving smoothly.

What Is The Diagnosis For Tomato Flu?

Patients exhibiting the symptoms indicated below should undergo molecular and serological tests to rule out Dengue, Chikungunya, and the Zika virus.

How Can You Prevent Tomato Flu?

Here are some ways to protect yourself from Tomato Flu.

  • Drink more water, juices and liquid content
  • Try to drink more boiled water
  • It's better not to touch the blisters
  • Maintain good personal hygiene
  • Maintain physically distance from suspected cases
  • Take sufficient rest to avoid the long-lasting effects of Tomato Flu

How To Treat Tomato Flu?

The known treatment for Tomato flu seems similar to the treatment of Chikungunya and Dengue. Patients are advised to isolate, rest, stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. Some drugs that can be used are supportive therapy of paracetamol for fever and body ache and other symptomatic treatments are required.

What Is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?

The infection known as hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is very contagious. The coxsackievirus, which is most frequently responsible, belongs to the Enterovirus genus. Hence tomato flu is caused by coxsackieviruses. These viruses can be transmitted directly from one person to another by coming into touch with unwashed hands or feces-contaminated surfaces. Additionally, contact with a person's saliva, feces, or respiratory secretions might spread it. All ages can be affected by the virus, although children under the age of five are most frequently affected  as per a CDC report. The majority of the time, it's a minor condition that resolves on its own in a few days.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hand Foot And Mouth Disease?

A child with this disease may suffer from fever, decreased appetite, sore throat, headache, irritability, malaise, painful red blisters in mouth, drooling and red rash on hands and soles of feet.

Are Tomato Fever And HFMD The Same?

Yes, tomato fever is a misleading colloquial name for hand foot and mouth disease. Tomato fever is not a scientific name. It has been loosely used to describe a common mild viral illness called Hand Foot and Mouth disease.

What Causes Hand Foot And Mouth Disease?

A coxsackievirus strain, most frequently coxsackievirus A16, is frequently responsible for HFMD. The coxsackievirus is a member of the enterovirus family of pathogens. Other kinds of enteroviruses can occasionally cause HFMD.

Viruses can be easily spread from person to person. You or your child may get HFMD through contact with a person’s:

  • saliva
  • fluid from blisters
  • feces
  • respiratory droplets that are sprayed into the air after coughing or sneezing.

Who Is At Risk For HFMD?

The risk of developing HFMD is higher in young children. Attending daycare or school puts them at greater risk because infections can spread quickly in these settings. After exposure to the viruses that cause the disease, children typically develop immunity to it. This is why people older than 10 are rarely affected by the illness. Adults and older children can still contract the virus, especially if their immune systems are compromised.

How Is HFMD Diagnosed?

A doctor can often diagnose HFMD by performing a physical exam. They’ll check the mouth and body for the appearance of blisters and rashes. The doctor will also ask the child about other symptoms. The doctor may take a throat swab or stool sample to test for the virus. This will allow them to confirm the diagnosis.

What Are Some Home Remedies To Treat HFMD?

Certain at-home treatments can also provide relief from HFMD symptoms. One can try the following home remedies to help make blisters less bothersome:

  • sucking on ice chips or popsicles
  • eating ice cream or cold squashes
  • drinking cold beverages
  • limiting citrus fruits, fruit drinks, and soda
  • limiting spicy or salty foods

Swishing warm salt water around in your mouth may also help relieve the pain associated with mouth blisters and throat sores. 

What Are The Complications Of HFMD?

Potential complications of HFMD include:

Is Tomato Fever Or HFMD Dangerous?

According to experts, the mortality rate in this disease is not high and could be treated easily. It is still a dangerous viral infection because it has severe complications and may cause deaths if not treated.

Visit Project Global Cure to read more such trending and upcoming news blogs on rare diseases that hit India and worldwide.

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