Tomato flu: Learn more about the virus that's spreading in India

Tomato flu: Learn more about the virus that’s spreading in India

The new virus known as tomato flu or tomato fever has been identified in India, and it affects children under the age of five. According to an article published in the scientific journal scalpelAs of August 17, the rare viral infection is now endemic and considered non-life-threatening. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, vigilant management is recommended to prevent further outbreaks. Similar to other types of influenza, tomato flu is highly 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 a rash — the virus is not associated with SARS-CoV-2.

According to the publication, tomato flu can be a later result of chikungunya or dengue fever in children, not a viral infection. The virus may also be a new type of hand, foot and mouth disease, a common infectious disease that mainly affects children aged 1 to 5 years and adults who are immunocompromised due to the Coxsackie virus of the family of enteroviruses, which usually inhabits children aged between 1 and 5 years. It can also cause stomatitis – a type of cold sore that affects the lining of the mouth.

Researchers understand tomato flu as a self-limiting disease, that is, it goes away on its own. So far, there are no specific medications to treat it or antiviral vaccines available to prevent it.

The disease got its name from the appearance of painful red blisters all over the body that gradually increase to the size of a tomato. These blisters are similar to those that appear with the monkeypox virus in young adults.


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

treatment or treatment

According to the study, molecular and serological tests are performed on children with these symptoms to diagnose dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika virus, varicella-zoster, and herpes. Once this viral infection has been ruled out, tomato virus contraction is confirmed.

Since tomato flu is similar to chikungunya and dengue, as well as a childhood hand, foot and mouth virus, the treatment is similar, too — isolation, rest, plenty of fluids, and a warm sponge to soothe irritation and rashes. Supportive acetaminophen therapy may be needed for fever, body aches, and other symptomatic treatments.

According to the article published in the scientific journal scalpelChildren are more at risk of contracting tomato flu as viral infection is common in this age group and spread is likely to occur through close contact. Younger children are also more susceptible to infection by wearing nappies, touching soiled surfaces, and putting objects directly in their mouths.

Given the similarities with hand, foot and mouth disease, if tomato flu outbreaks in children are not controlled and prevented, transmission could lead to severe consequences, the publication warned. Therefore, it is recommended to follow strict 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 the spread of infection to other children or adults. The best prevention solution is to maintain hygiene, as well as prevent an infected child from sharing toys, clothing, food, or other items with uninfected children.

From where he came

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

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