Main clinicians and medical researchers in India say they’re aghast on the media experiences that painting hand, foot and mouth illness (HFMD) — a typical, comparatively gentle, viral an infection afflicting youngsters — as brought on by a brand new virus liable for what’s dubbed as ‘tomato flu’.
The experiences seem to originate from the ‘correspondence’ part of Lancet Respiratory Drugs printed on 17 August that stated: “Simply as we’re coping with the possible emergence of fourth wave of COVID-19, a brand new virus often known as tomato flu, or tomato fever, has emerged in India within the state of Kerala in youngsters youthful than 5 years.”
Vinod Scaria, virologist and principal scientist on the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Analysis, New Delhi, stated: “Calling the virus new and sensationalizing HFMD as ‘tomato flu’ by correspondence in Lancet Respiratory Drugs, with out taking into consideration knowledge in printed literature or info on the bottom, is the difficulty right here.”
The strains liable for the present outbreak had been recognized as enteroviruses (viruses which can be transmitted by the gut) Coxsackie A16 and A6 by the state’s Institute of Superior Virology in Thonnakkal. A report within the Journal of Medical Virology on 24 August additionally confirms the predominant function of the 2 Coxsackie strains.
However in accordance with the Lancet article, “main signs noticed in youngsters with tomato flu are just like these of chikungunya, which embrace excessive fever, rashes and intense ache in joints”. It goes on to say: “Tomato flu gained its title on the idea of the eruption of pink and painful blisters all through the physique that step by step enlarge to the scale of a tomato.”
That description of signs has been challenged as “ludicrous” by Aravind Reghukumaar who heads the Division of Infectious Ailments on the state-run Trivandrum Medical Faculty, Kerala.
“HFMD is a medical analysis that can’t be confused with chikungunya or dengue,” Reghukumaar instructed SciDev.Internet. “Moreover, it’s not scientific to call illnesses after greens.”
“Total, this text has develop into a supply of media sensation, medical misinformation and pointless alarm in India,” stated Reghukumaar, considered one of a bunch of main Indian medical doctors who’ve written to The Lancet calling for the “retraction of this unscientific article on the earliest”.
As to its relation with COVID-19, he defined: “Outbreaks of HFMD had been linked to the opening of colleges in Kerala on the finish of 2021, after remaining closed for nearly two years throughout which all respiratory viral infections within the state had been low resulting from stringent restrictions in opposition to COVID-19. Reopening of colleges modified the panorama and set the setting for HFMD and different viral infections to unfold.”
In response to Sandhya Raveendran, a district surveillance officer, Kerala State Well being Companies within the district of Kollam, the place HFMD first surfaced in Could and contaminated greater than 80 youngsters inside two months, strict vigilance within the state below the Built-in Illness Surveillance Programme made it noticeable.
“The signs of HFMD are typical and can’t be confused with COVID-19,” Raveendran instructed SciDev.Internet. “We give supportive remedy to affected youngsters, although the illness is well-understood, self-limiting and barely exhibits problems.”
Raveendran stated care is taken to ship random samples to the Nationwide Institute of Virology’s discipline unit at Alapuzha, Kerala. “If many youngsters are affected, the involved faculty is closed and the well being division referred to as in to disinfect the premises, however there isn’t a trigger in any respect for panic.”
With a view to allay confusion over HFMD as tomato flu within the media, the Kerala authorities issued a press launch offering particulars of probably signs and remedy and stating that no critical instances had been reported. It warned, nevertheless, that since these contaminated had been principally youngsters below 5, care needed to be taken and sufferers stored remoted.
HFMD is a illness that persons are very conversant in — the one slight distinction is that adults are getting it now, although the illness is way milder in adults.”
Suma Balan, pediatrician and professor on the College of Drugs, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kochi, Kerala
Balan believes that linking HFMD to the monkey pox added to the confusion and “unnecessarily dragged the HFMD outbreak into the limelight.” The Lancet correspondence says that blisters brought on by HFMD “resemble these seen with the monkeypox virus in younger people”.
Scaria added: “Whereas the curiosity in infectious illness outbreaks is a optimistic signal, it’s of utmost public curiosity to stay to info and never sensationalize outbreaks. Figuring out the pathogen and speaking illness traits appropriately permits the bigger public well being equipment to prioritize and take vital motion the place wanted.”