Home / News / India /  ‘Tomato fever’ is misleading name for Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, says expert

After the alert issued by Lancet health magazine on the rising cases of tomato fever or tomato flu in India, medical professionals have called it a misleading colloquial name for Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), reported ANI. Dr. Rajeev Jayadevan, co-chairman of IMA's National task force on Covid-19 said, "Tomato fever is a misleading colloquial name for hand, foot, and mouth disease. This is a mild viral illness commonly affecting young children typically below age 10. It is usually caused by a Coxsackie virus."

Notably, the count of people infected with the HFMD virus reached 82 on Sunday.

Symptoms of the infection

Talking about the symptoms of HFMD, Dr Jayadevan informed that many people call it tomato fever because of the red spots it produces on the skin. It took no time for the name to gain popularity among people. But he cautioned that it is not a good idea to use such a name for a disease that has hardly any association with tomatoes.

The name 'tomato fever' can lead to people mistakenly believe that it comes from tomatoes.

Health experts also cited some publications in Kerala that referred to the endemic disease as tomato fever.

On this Dr Dhiren Gupta, Senior Consultant of Sir Gangaram Hospital, highlighted the fact that the community is just recovering from Covid pandemic, and is very sensitive to new endemics. News of the break out of Tomato flu can cause panic among people. That's why he suggested checking facts about the disease. 

Also Read: Tomato flu reported in Kerala. Check symptoms and other details

"It looks like it's a form of hand, foot, mouth disease with additional symptoms of joint pains and high-grade fever. Anyway hand foot mouth disease itself is a syndrome which can be caused by different enteroviruses. Symptoms vary from type of virus, age group and immunity status of the patient. In general, it's not life-threatening in the general population," Dhiren Gupta said.

The fever can also cause rashes to appear on hands, feet and buttocks and can also cause ulcers in the mouth.

How much contagious is HFMD?

HFMD is highly contagious. It can easily spread from human secretion (especially nose and throat), close contact, etc. A person who comes into contact of an infected person is likely to get contracted with the infection. "It spreads from person to person just like a common cold, through contact with the patient's secretions including stool, for example during a diaper change in child care facilities," said Dr Rajeev Jayadevan.

Also Read: What is Tomato Fever? Causes, symptoms and treatment

To avoid getting contracted with HFMD, Dr. Rajeev suggests the most common but highly effective measures like regular hand washing, maintenance of hygiene, etc. According to him, the infection can be handled through normal supportive treatment and it is very rare to experience any kind of complications.

"Likely this correspondence must be sent for publication in early part June when an epidemic of HFMD was just started and clinicians were not aware about likely epidemic ( all over India this disease is there ) termed this as tomato because of its lesions. In conclusion, there is no need to panic for anyone. More definitive studies are required," said Dr Dhiren.

Lancet Study on HFMD

According to the Lancet study, tomato fever broke out in India mainly among children. So far more than 80 cases have been registered. Mostly, children below the age of 5 years are getting contracted with the virus.

"The rare viral infection is in an endemic state and is considered non-life-threatening; however, because of the dreadful experience of the Covid19 pandemic, vigilant management is desirable to prevent further outbreaks," reads the study.

With inputs from ANI

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