Lancet raises alarm about emergence of tomato flu in India

Lancet study states it first emerged in Kerala on May 6; 108 kids afflicted across India

Sherine RajUpdated: Saturday, August 20, 2022, 10:51 PM IST
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Lancet raises alarm about emergence of tomato flu in India | Photo: Pexels

Mumbai: World’s largest independent medical journal, The Lancet, has raised an alarm about the emergence of yet another flu in India. As per the weekly peer-reviewed journal, tomato flu has afflicted 82 children under the age of five in government hospitals across the country. It first emerged in Kerala on May 6 but later spread to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Additionally, the Regional Medical Research Centre in Bhubaneswar has reported 26 cases in children aged one to nine. However, there are no cases yet in Maharashtra.

The Free Press Journal spoke to doctors, who said the flu is highly contagious and has derived its name from reddish blister-like symptoms. It mainly spreads through skin contact with the infected person.

The Lancet states that this flu is self-limiting and there are no specific drugs to treat it. It is in the endemic stage and is non-threatening, it states. However, owing to surging Covid-19 cases, vigilance is needed to prevent further outbreaks.

The report clarifies that though the tomato flu virus has symptoms similar to Covid (both are associated with fever, fatigue, body aches, with some patients exhibiting skin rashes), the virus is not related to SARS-CoV-2.

A senior paediatrician from civic-run Nair Hospital said, “No such case has been reported yet in the city. At present, most cases in hospitals concerning children pertain to the hand, foot, and mouth infection.”

Dr Bakul Parekh, a paediatrician practicing in Ghatkopar and a member of the Indian Academy of Paediatricians, said that the difference between the hand, foot, and mouth infection and tomato flu is that the size of the blisters are larger and reddish in the latter.

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