Posted On Aug 23, 2022
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India has experienced yet another outbreak of a “highly contagious” viral disease. While medical experts are still battling COVID-19 and monkeypox, a new virus known as tomato flu, or tomato fever, has emerged in India in children younger than 5 years. As per the report published by The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, the rare viral infection is in an endemic state and is considered non-life threatening. The virus was first reported in Kerala on May 6th and since then 82 cases have been reported so far. Moreover, Odisha has also reported 26 cases of tomato flu and all neighbouring states are on alert including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Let’s learn about tomato flu, its symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention techniques.
Tomato flu or tomato fever is a rare viral disease causing skin irritation, dehydration, and rashes that affects children mainly under the age of 5. It might not be a new viral infection but could be an after-effect of chikungunya or dengue fever in children. Some studies suggest that tomato flu can be a new variant of the viral hand, foot, and mouth disease, a common infectious disease targeting mostly children aged 1–5 years and immunocompromised adults.
The flu got its name from the emergence of red and painful blisters throughout the body that gradually enlarge to the size of a tomato.
The initial symptoms of tomato flu resemble those of dengue and chikungunya including high fever, rashes, and intense pain in joints. Rashes and blisters resembling those seen with the monkeypox virus emerge throughout the body which leads to skin irritation. Further symptoms include:
Swelling of joints
The exact cause of the tomato virus outbreak is still unknown. Researchers and medical experts are doing further investigations to find out more about the virus that causes tomato fever.
Dr. Archana M, Consultant - Paediatric Infectious Disease, Manipal Hospital, Old Airport Road, in an interview with The New Indian Express, said that the medical name for ‘tomato flu’ is ‘Hand Foot Mouth disease. She further added, “It is caused by viruses from the enterovirus genus, most commonly the coxsackievirus. It is usually seen among children of less than five years old,”. According to the doctor, tomato flu is a highly contagious infection and can spread through close contact and air. Hence, it is recommended to practice isolation. Young children can catch this virus by touching dirty surfaces, using diapers, and putting objects directly into their mouths.
As per the Lancet report, tomato flu is a self-limiting disease and no specific drug exists to treat it. Since the symptoms of tomato fever are similar to those of dengue or chikungunya, the treatment technique is also similar. The treatment of tomato flu includes isolation, rest, plenty of fluids, and a hot water sponge for the relief of irritation and rashes. In addition to that, supportive therapy of paracetamol for fever and body ache and other symptomatic treatments are required. Book an appointment today for Tomato Flu Treatment in Bangalore.
As of today, no antiviral drugs or vaccines are available for the treatment or prevention of tomato flu. Further research and investigations are needed to better understand the need for potential treatments.
“Prevention is the best cure”, this old adage fits perfectly for tomato flu. Since more research is needed to understand the causes and devise a treatment for it, the best way to keep our children safe from tomato fever is to adopt precautionary measures. Following are some preventive measures to avoid getting this flu:
Avoid close contact with the infected person.
Teach your children about this virus and its effects on the body.
Educate them about the signs and symptoms of tomato fever so that they can maintain distance from any person showing or having those symptoms.
Tell them not to shake hands, play, or hug any child who has symptoms of tomato fever.
Encourage children to maintain hygiene and stop activities that involve bodily fluids like sucking their thumb or picking their nose.
Tell them to use a handkerchief while sneezing or coughing if they have a runny nose or cough to avoid the spread of the disease.
Prevent the infected child from sharing toys, clothes, food, or other items with other non-infected children.
Tell them not to scratch or rub the blister and wash it every time you touch these blisters.
Encourage your children to drink plenty of water, milk, juice, etc. to keep them hydrated.
Isolate your child if they are showing symptoms of tomato fever.
Regularly clean and sanitise all utensils, clothes, toys and other items of your children.
It is recommended to use warm water to bathe or clean the skin of your child.
Include immunity-boosters and nutrient-rich foods in the diet of your child.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions on tomato flu.
A: Yes, tomato flu is a highly contagious disease that spread through close contact with an infected person.
A: Tomato flu is a highly contagious but non-lethal disease. In most cases, it can be cured at home with some medications. However, you should consult a doctor before giving any medication to your child. If the child is showing severe symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, and dehydration, your child may need hospitalisation. If your child is younger than six months, has a weakened immune system, or has mouth sores or a sore throat that makes it painful to drink fluids, then it is very important to see a doctor immediately.
A: There is no specific treatment needed for tomato fever. The signs and symptoms subside after 7 to 10 days. To know more about Infectious Disease Treatment in Bangalore, consult with our experts.
A: Yes, a child can take a bath during tomato fever. However, it is recommended to use warm water with a few drops of antiseptics like Dettol in it.
A: No, tomato fever is not caused by eating tomatoes. The tomato fever or tomato flu is named so because of the rise of red and round blisters it causes, which look just like tomatoes.
A: Many medical professionals and experts have said that “tomato fever” is a colloquial name for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD). Some studies also suggest that tomato fever might not be a new viral infection but a new variant of HFMD.
Department of Infectious Disease