What is ‘tomato flu’? New virus spreads in India

As the world continues its fight against Covid-19 and the ever-spreading monkeypox virus, it seems as though there’s another illness gaining a foothold.

“Tomato flu” was first identified in India on May 6 and has so far infected 82 children, who are all under the age of FIVE, according to a study by the Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal.

A further 26 kids up to the age of 10 are suspected of having cases of tomato flu, the New York Post reports.

Aptly named for the red blisters that appear on the skin, the new virus comes armed with fever and joint pain.

“Just as we are dealing with the probable emergence of fourth wave of Covid-19, a new virus known as tomato flu, or tomato fever, has emerged in India in the state of Kerala in children younger than 5 years,” the Lancet reported.

“The rare viral infection is in an endemic state and is considered non-life-threatening; however, because of the dreadful experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, vigilant management is desirable to prevent further outbreaks.”

The virus has so far been detected in the Kollam district of Kerala, India, and nearby areas of Anchal, Aryankavu and Neduvathur.

“Children are at increased risk of exposure to tomato flu as viral infections are common in this age group and spread is likely to be through close contact,” Lancet’s report added.

Medics say the infection, which currently has no drug to fight it, is “very contagious” and has striking similarities to hand, foot and mouth disease.

“Given the similarities to hand, foot and mouth disease, if the outbreak of tomato flu in children is not controlled and prevented, transmission might lead to serious consequences by spreading in adults as well,” the study added.

Some cases, albeit very few, reported a change in limb colour.

“It is not a fatal disease, but it is contagious and can spread from person to person, although the actual ways in which the infection spreads are still being studied,” Dr Subhash Chandra, assistant professor of Internal Medicine at Amrita Hospital told India Today.

“Patients who develop tomato fever should drink plenty of fluids and rest in bed, as it is also advised for other viral fevers, to keep the body hydrated and well-rested.”

Those who contract the virus are placed in isolation for five to seven days.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

Originally published as New ‘tomato flu’ infects 86 children in India