Tomato Flu: Learn more about the virus that spreads in India

Tomato Flu: Learn more about the virus that spreads in India

Identified in India, the new virus known as tomato flu or tomato fever affects children under 5 years of age. According to an article published in the scientific journal The Lancet, as of August 17, the rare viral infection is in an endemic state and is considered non-life threatening. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, vigilant management is recommended to prevent further outbreaks. Similar to other types of flu, tomato flu is very contagious.

While initially showing symptoms similar to those of the new coronavirus — fever, fatigue and body aches, and some Covid-19 patients have also reported skin rashes — the virus is not related to SARS-CoV-2.

According to the publication, the tomato flu could be an after-effect of chikungunya or dengue in children, rather than a viral infection. The virus may also be a new variant of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, a common infectious disease that mainly affects children between 1 and 5 years of age and immunocompromised adults caused by the Coxsackie virus of the enterovirus family, which normally inhabits the digestive system and can also cause Stomatitis – a type of cold sore that affects the lining of the mouth.

The tomato flu is understood by researchers as a self-limiting disease, that is, it disappears on its own. To date, there are no specific drugs to treat it or antiviral vaccines available for prevention.

The disease got its name from the eruption of red, painful blisters all over the body that gradually increase to the size of a tomato. These blisters resemble those seen with monkeypox virus in young individuals.


The main symptoms seen in children with tomato flu are similar to those of chikungunya, which include a high fever, rash, and severe joint pain. There are still pictures of fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and body aches.


According to the study, in children with these symptoms, molecular and serological tests are performed to diagnose dengue, chikungunya, zika virus, varicella-zoster and herpes. Once these viral infections are ruled out, contraction of the tomato virus is confirmed.

As the tomato flu is similar to chikungunya and dengue, as well as the hand-foot-and-mouth childhood virus, the treatment is also similar – i.e. isolation, rest, plenty of fluids and a warm sponge to soothe irritations and rashes. . Supportive acetaminophen therapy for fever and body pain and other symptomatic treatments may be needed.

Also according to the article published in the scientific journal The Lancet, children are at higher risk of exposure to tomato flu as viral infections are common in this age group and spread is likely to occur through close contact. Younger children are also more prone to infection through wearing diapers, touching dirty surfaces, as well as putting things directly into their mouths.

Given the similarities with hand-foot-and-mouth disease, if the outbreak of tomato flu in children is not controlled and prevented, transmission could lead to serious consequences, spreading to adults as well, as the publication warned. Therefore, it is recommended to follow the careful isolation of confirmed or suspected cases and other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Isolation should be followed for 5 to 7 days from the onset of symptoms to prevent spreading the infection to other children or adults. The best solution for prevention is maintaining hygiene, as well as preventing the infected child from sharing toys, clothes, food or other items with uninfected children.

where did it come from

The disease was first discovered in the Kollam district of Kerala, India on May 6 this year. As of July 26, 2022, at least 82 children under age 5 with the infection have been reported by local government hospitals. In addition, 26 children (aged 1 to 9 years) were reported to have the disease in Odisha by the Regional Medical Research Center in Bhubaneswar. This endemic viral disease has triggered an alert to the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Precautionary measures are being taken by the Kerala Health Department to monitor the spread of the viral infection and prevent its spread in other parts of India.

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