In India, the young are especially vulnerable to a virus known as the tomato flu. The tomato flu, so-called because of the characteristic redness of its infected victims’ blisters, is actually an old virus that was misidentified.
Instead, the current scientific consensus is that this is a manifestation of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), a mild but highly contagious virus that primarily affects children.
Coxsackie virus, an enterovirus, has been circulating in human populations for a long time and is responsible for hand, foot, and mouth disease. In May of 2022, a 5-year-old boy and his 13-month-old sister became the first known victims of tomato flu.
After visiting the state of Kerala in India, the siblings began experiencing symptoms. More than one hundred cases were reported across India by the end of August, forcing the government to issue a health warning.
Are there any signs and symptoms of tomato flu?
Tomato flu causes severe pain, swelling, and red blisters on the skin. Other symptoms include aches all over the body, exhaustion, fever, nausea, and dehydration. Blisters may develop as early as a day or two after exposure, whereas the other symptoms may take up to five days to show up.
It seems that the children in India are exhibiting symptoms [similar to those of HFMD], however, the blisters are allegedly considerably larger than those associated with Coxsackie.
The coxsackievirus is responsible for tomato flu. It can be spread through saliva, mucous, or even feces.
If someone with the virus coughs or sneezes near a youngster, the child is at risk of catching the illness. Additionally, it can be spread by direct contact with an infected person or their feces (for example, during a diaper change). Touching an infected surface or object can also spread Coxsackie.
The Tomato Flu: Why Is It Targeting Kids?
Tomato flu is predominantly affecting children under 5 years old in India. The fact that it spreads so easily by touching infected surfaces and then touching one’s own eyes, nose, or mouth accounts for this.
This age group is notorious for putting their hands in their mouths after having close encounters with other children, objects, or adults.
How Do Doctors Treat Tomato Flu?
The tomato flu is self-limiting, meaning that it can get better without any intervention. For the time being, parents and caregivers should prioritize preventing dehydration and alleviating any unpleasant symptoms, such as a high temperature or painful blisters.
A pain reliever like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil can help with such signs and symptoms (ibuprofen). Warning: Advil should never be given to children under the age of 1.6 without first consulting the appropriate dosage and type charts.
Children who are affected are urged to hydrate themselves. They may resist drinking if they have sores around their lips, so it’s crucial to encourage them to take frequent, little sips.
If the kid is not drinking enough to prevent dehydration or if the severe symptoms do not improve within 10 days, a call to the pediatrician is warranted.
Concerned About Tomato Flu in the U.S.?
It’s logical that hearing about a new virus or a different manifestation of an existing condition would raise some alarm, given all that’s transpired in the globe in recent years.
First, viruses like COVID-19 and Monkeypox first appeared in other regions of the world and eventually made their way to the United States. Perhaps you’re worried that the tomato flu could spread to your community.
Thus far, the outbreak of tomato flu has only been observed in a handful of Indian states. The United States has not reported any cases. It is possible for an illness to spread, just like any other infectious condition.
When or if tomato flu will arrive in the United States is unknown. Remembering that the coxsackie virus is typically not dangerous while being very unpleasant may help.
While the virus can be deadly, it seldom causes fatalities on its own and usually only causes complications. None of the afflicted youngsters in India have died, and their recoveries have gone smoothly so far.
Children in India are falling victim to a virus made from tomatoes. Maybe you’re worried about how widespread this issue might develop in the United States. Although this virus may theoretically make its way to the United States, experts think it’s unlikely to cause any major problems here.
Tomato flu is an emerging form of hand, foot, and mouth disease. Your youngster should practice regular hand washing as it is the best defense against getting sick.
Do not hesitate to wash your hands frequently, especially before consuming or preparing food. Wash your hands after using the restroom, changing a sick child’s diaper, or any other time you handle bodily fluids.