Recently, there has been a new disease called tomato flu reported in India. The tomato flu symptoms are worrying when memories of COVID-19 are still fresh. You can recall the global devasting effects of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2.
Even more recently, some countries have had to deal with the Monkeypox virus though its effects have not been as serious. Now the big question raging all over the world is what tomato flu could be. Is it a viral disease?
What Causes Tomato Flu?
Although some quarters have thought that tomato flu could be a viral disease, this is not certain because it hasn’t been confirmed yet. Some experts in a Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal publication, think that tomato flu is a different manifestation of hand, foot, and mouth disease and not a new disease as such.
Some scientists have already performed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the disease using samples recovered from children with symptoms. What the test returned was coxsackievirus A16 which is indeed the etiological agent for the hand, foot, and mouth disease.
If it turns out to be the hand, foot, and mouth disease, then there will be no cause for alarm because this disease is manageable. There is, however, no safe and effective vaccine for it up to now.
Tomato Flu Symptoms
According to a publication by The Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal, this disease derives its name from the characteristic appearance of red tomato-like swellings manifested in patients. These fluid-filled vesicular swellings are seen on the skin of the people suffering from the disease.
Apart from this, such people will complain about skin irritation which could be a result of the immune response. You may not associate this with COVID-19, but it has been reported that there are overlapping symptoms like fever, running nose, fatigue, and body aches among others.
Weak Immune systems are targets for Tomato Flu
Tomato flu symptoms have been observed in people with weakness of the immune system. It has so far been reported that children below the age of 9 are the most affected. Cases that have been reported are all among children.
This group is usually composed of the majority of those whose immune system is not yet fully developed. The human immune system which includes innate and adaptive immunity develops gradually during childhood.
The other groups said to be probably targeted by the tomato flu include the old (diminished immune system) and the immunocompromised (like in HIV and cancer) as reported by The Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal.
These are perfect examples of a deterioration of the immune system status. These two groups once had competent immune systems which were eroded by old age and disease respectively. That explains why they would be vulnerable.
Epidemiology of Tomato Flu
Tomato flu has been reported only in India so far. According to the Times of India news publication, the locations with about 100 cases collectively are Haryana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha.
The world is on high alert owing to lessons learned from the fast-spreading COVID-19 that nearly became uncontrollable for some time before doctors and scientists could learn about it.
The COVID-19 pandemic was first reported at the tail-end of 2019 in China. By mid-2020, nearly all countries in the world had reported numerous cases. Therefore, governments around the world are not taking information about tomato flu for granted. The WHO has not said much about this disease yet.
Treatment of Tomato Flu
You may not have to be very afraid because it has been reported that tomato flu is not life-threatening. This is at least true for the cases so far reported in India. As such, no drugs have been identified and specifically recommended for its treatment.
However, you cannot sit pretty in such a situation without doing anything about it and so your doctor will manage the symptoms if you fall sick. You’ll be treated in a way to suppress any symptoms that cause you pain or any other discomfort. This practice is consistent with the approach given to many new diseases.
Research is not conclusive on whether Tomato flu is a new viral disease, or a new presentation of the hand, foot, and mouth disease caused by coxsackievirus A16. Research is ongoing in India and elsewhere to uncover the facts.Follow us on Social Media