Tomato flu: Know the common symptoms, prevention tips from experts

Published on Aug 23, 2022 05:42 PM IST

Tomato flu, a viral disease that is spreading in kids under the age of 5 years and immunocompromised adults is said to be a new variant of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. Here's all you want to know about tomato fever

The tomato flu is caused by Coxsackie virus A 16. It belongs to Enterovirus family.(PTI)
The tomato flu is caused by Coxsackie virus A 16. It belongs to Enterovirus family.(PTI)
By, Delhi

It seems disease outbreaks are becoming more common in post Covid world with the spread of monkeypox, norovirus, polio, mysterious liver disease in kids becoming a cause of concern for people and health authorities across the world. Tomato flu, another viral disease, that is spreading in kids under the age of 5 years and immunocompromised adults is said to be a new variant of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease and so far, 82 cases of the disease have been reported in India after the first case was found in Kerala on May 6. (Also read: Tomato Flu: All you need to know about the new contagious disease in India affecting children)

WHAT IS TOMATO FLU OR TOMATO FEVER

The tomato flu is caused by Coxsackie virus A 16. It belongs to Enterovirus family. The tomato flu was first identified in the Kollam district of Kerala on May 6, 2022 and is mainly affects young children.

"Tomato fever or tomato flu is a red blister which appears on the skin with joint pain and fever. This is very similar to hand, foot and mouth disease. It's a viral infection and it's not a life-threatening infection. This infection must be prevented and controlled at the right time to avoid further spread in children and adults. Children or adults suffering from this infection must be in isolation for at least 5-7 days since the infection can spread from one to another person. The patient must drink plenty to fluids, rest well, avoid junk food, and keep the body hydrated," says Dr Vaidehi Dande, Child Specialist and Neonatologist, Symbiosis Hospital, Dadar.

SYMPTOMS OF TOMATO FEVER

Tomato flu symptoms resemble those of chikungunya because of the intense pain it causes in joints and also with monkeypox because of the rashes that appear on skin.

"The primary symptoms observed in children with tomato flu are similar to those of chikungunya, which include high fever, rashes, and intense pain in joints. 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. These blisters resemble those seen with the monkeypox virus in young individuals. Rashes also appear on the skin with tomato flu that lead to skin irritation," says Dr N. Jeevan Reddy, Jr. Consultant & Pediatric Intensivist, Yashoda hospitals Hyderabad.

Dr Reddy says the other symptoms of tomato flu include, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, dehydration, swelling of joints, body aches, and common influenza-like symptoms, which are similar to those manifested in dengue.

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF TOMATO FEVER

"There is no characteristic symptom or sign which differentiates tomato flu from other forms of flu. For doctors, there is no specific clinical or laboratory test which can be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. So only after the appearance of rash can one be sure about the diagnosis. Having a high 'index of suspicion' helps," says Dr Vaidehi.

"In children with these symptoms, molecular and serological tests are done for the diagnosis of dengue, chikungunya, chicken pox. Once these viral infections are ruled out, contraction of tomato virus is confirmed. Because tomato flu is similar to chikungunya and dengue as well as hand, foot, and mouth disease, treatment is also similar — i.e., isolation, rest, plenty of fluids, and hot water sponge for the relief of irritation and rashes," says Dr Reddy.

Supportive therapy of paracetamol for fever and body ache and other symptomatic treatments are required.

TOMATO FEVER: PREVENTION TIPS

Similar to other types of influenza, tomato flu is highly contagious. Hence, it is mandatory to follow careful isolation of confirmed or suspected cases and other precautionary steps to prevent the outbreak of the tomato flu.

"Isolation should be followed for 5–7 days from symptom onset to prevent the spread of infection to other children or adults. The best solution for prevention is the maintenance of proper hygiene and sanitisation of the surrounding necessities and environment as well as preventing the infected child from sharing toys, clothes, food, or other items with other non-infected children. Drug repurposing and vaccination are the most efficacious and cost- effective approaches to ensure the safety of public health from viral infections, especially in children, older people, immunocompromised people, and those with underlying health issues," says Dr Reddy.

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