Unscrupulous Indian Reporters And Fake Researchers Connotated Tomato Flu That Was Actually HFMD Disease, Fooling Many Professionals!
Unscrupulous Indian reporters and media first started creating a story about an outbreak of a mysterious disease among children as early as June 2022 that they labelled as “Tomato Flu” when in reality it was nothing more than ordinary hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) disease, a viral infection that afflicts children.
Pictures like this was used to sensationalize the 'Tomato Flu' coverages!
The Indian media kept on the narratives that a new viral disease had emerged and that doctors were clueless and that there were no known treatments to treat the disease.
Two non-credible Indian researchers with only a general Indian degree in pharmaceutical sciences from the LM College of Pharmacy in Gujerat-India and a Greek from the University of Victoria-Australia whose credentials were unknown actually even published a document in the peer reviewed journal: The Lancet Respiratory Medicine documenting the emergence and symptoms of this ‘new’ Tomato Flu disease hoping to gain some kind of academic recognition and worst, the professionals at the editorial board of the journal did not even make an attempt to contact health officials at the localities where the alleged new disease appeared (ie the state of Kerala in India) to verify the details.
As the result this publication in the journal, the story further spread with many stupid mainstream media in other countries with no properly trained medical or health writers also reporting on the emergence of this non-existent disease which is only HFMD.
Many leading doctors including pediatricians and medical researchers in India are aghast at these media coverages that portray the common hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) as a new worrisome disease caused by a new virus responsible for what is dubbed "tomato flu” and are now retaliating.
Dr Vinod Scaria, virologist and principal scientist at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-New Delh told Thailand Medical News
, "Calling the virus new and sensationalizing HFMD as 'tomato flu' through correspondence in Lancet Respiratory Medicine, without taking into account data in published literature or facts on the ground, is the issue here and really reflects the kind of trash that Indian media is famous for.”
In reality, the viral strains responsible for the HDMD disease outbreak in India were identified as enteroviruses (viruses that are transmitted through the intestine) Coxsackie A16 and A6 by the state's Institute of Advanced Virology in Thonnakkal-Kerala.
That report was published in the peer reviewed Journal of Medical Virology on 24 August but a preprint version and notifications to health institutions and doctors were already disseminated as early as late June and July 2022.
Hilariously according to many media coverages and even the Lancet article, "Primary symptoms observed in children with tomato flu are similar to those of chikungunya, which include high fever, rashes and intense pain in joints."
Many of these media coverages and the lancet article goes on to say that, "tomato flu gained its name on the basis of the eruption of red and painful blisters throughout the body that gradually enlarge to the size of a tomato."
Dr Aravind Reghukumaar who heads the Department of Infectious Diseases at the state-run Trivandrum Medical College, Kerala commented, “That description of symptoms has been challenged as "ludicrous. HFMD is a clinical diagnosis that cannot be confused with chikungunya or dengue. Furthermore, it is not scientific to name diseases after vegetables.”
Some doctors suggested that perhaps the reporters and the charlatans who wrote the article in the Lancet were suffering from a new psychotic disease called “Banana Brains!”
Dr Reghukumaar is one the many leading Indian doctors who have written to the Lancet calling for the "retraction of this unscientific article at the earliest".
He said, "Overall, this article has become a source of media sensation, medical misinformation and unnecessary alarm in India.”
Also, as far as to its relation with COVID-19, he explained that "outbreaks of HFMD were linked to the opening of schools in Kerala at the end of 2021, after remaining closed for almost two years during which all respiratory viral infections in the state were low due to stringent restrictions against COVID-19. Reopening of schools changed the landscape and set the environment for HFMD and other viral infections to spread."
Dr Sandhya Raveendran, a district surveillance officer at Kerala State Health Services in the district of Kollam where HFMD first surfaced in May and infected more than 80 children within two months said that strict vigilance in the state under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program made it noticeable and all relevant test and health surveillance was in place.
Dr Raveendran added, "The symptoms of HFMD are typical and cannot be confused with COVID-19. We gave supportive treatment to affected children, as the disease is well-understood, self-limiting and rarely shows complications."
Dr Raveendran added that care is taken to send random samples to the National Institute of Virology's field unit at Alapuzha, Kerala.
She said, "If many children are affected, the concerned school is closed and the health department called in to disinfect the premises, but there is no cause at all for panic."
The Kerala government and health authorities in order to allay confusion over HFMD as tomato flu in the media, issued a press release providing details of likely symptoms and treatment and stating that no serious cases had been reported. It warned, however, that since those infected were mostly children under five, care had to be taken and patients kept isolated.
Dr Suma Balan, a pediatrician and Professor at the School of Medicine, in Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kochi, Kerala commented, "HFMD is a disease that people are very familiar with, the only slight difference is that adults are getting it now, though the disease is much milder in adults."
Dr Balan believes that linking HFMD to the monkey pox or COVID-19 added to the confusion and "unnecessarily dragged the HFMD outbreak into the limelight."
The article in the Lancet says that blisters caused by HFMD "resemble those seen with the monkeypox virus in young individuals."
Dr Scaria added that "while the interest in infectious disease outbreaks is a positive sign, it is of utmost public interest to stick to facts and not sensationalize outbreaks. Identifying the pathogen and communicating disease characteristics correctly enables the larger public health machinery to prioritize and take necessary action where needed."
Meanwhile in Thailand, the countries distinguished medical professionals and health authorities are on the look-out for any tomato flu outbreak in the country! Lol! https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2378558/ddc-to-track-outbreak-of-tomato-flu
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