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“Tomato flu” is the latest disease to plague us. Speaking of epidemics, it’s time to hit the brakes

The first cases emerged in the state of Kerala (India) around May. It only affected children under the age of five and, although not considered life-threatening, the appearance of sporadic cases for weeks has alarmed authorities. First of all, little is known about the so-called “tomato flu (or fever)” and the shadow of COVID is long. It’s actually very long.

What happened?. From May 6 (when the first case was detected in the Kerala state area) to July 26 (according to the report published these days in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine), local government hospitals detected 82 children with so-called ‘tomatoes’. cold’. More cases have been detected in other states in the country such as Tamil Nadu and Odisha in recent weeks.

What does the disease consist of? What symptoms do you have? As far as we know so far, the most characteristic symptom is the appearance of painful red blisters all over the body, gradually reaching the size of a tomato. That’s where the name comes from. Otherwise, affected children often develop high fever, other skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, dehydration, and severe joint pain.

What is the reason of this? This is the biggest problem: we have no idea. Researchers found nothing after performing molecular and serological tests to diagnose COVID-19, dengue, chikungunya, Zika, varicella-zoster, and herpes.

Therefore, many theories are currently being considered: from the late secondary effect of chikungunya or dengue fever in young children to a new variant of viral hand-mouth-foot disease. Fortunately, despite initial reports of it being a highly contagious disease, “tomato flu” is a self-limiting illness (ie, it has a good prognosis), although there are no drugs to treat it.

The story of Pedro and the plague wolf?. As we’ve explained on other occasions, hundreds of strange outbreaks occur each year, and the vast majority of them just stay like this: in a small isolated case rosary with no significant epidemiological impact. However, it is true that the outbreaks in recent years (COVID, childhood hepatitis, monkeypox, new Chinese virus, etc.) have shown that we are particularly sensitive to such news after the pandemic.

However, the excess of epidemiological news is (understandably) not without risk: the risk that the public will become desensitized to such an outbreak is very real. First of all, if we get too excited about situations like the one right now: just over a hundred cases with a good prognosis in the middle of over a billion people.


Separate the stalk from the wheat. Moreover, more than a hundred cases from May to July. You just have to remember that exactly the same time passed since the Wuhan Livestock Market was closed, until Spain went to jail. No matter how contagious the disease is, this simple fact gives us a good argument to realize that we are not talking about the same thing. We won’t be talking about the same thing in the near future either: Therefore, the big task that awaits is knowing how to separate the chaff from the wheat.

Image | Yannis H

Source: Xataka



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