A new virus known as tomato flu, or tomato fever, is spreading through the Indian state of Kerala in children younger than 5, The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, reported last week. The viral infection, which is considered rare, is now in an endemic state. It is probably not life-threatening, but because of the world’s horrific experience with the ability of the COVID-19 virus to mutate into several waves of a global pandemic, doctors and scientists recommend vigilant management of the disease to prevent new outbreaks.
The tomato flu was first identified in Kerala on May 6, 2022, and as of July 26, 2022, more than 82 children five years or younger have been infected. 26 children ages 1 to 9 years have been reported with the disease in Bhubaneswar. The viral illness triggered an alert in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. To date, only Kerala, Tamilnadu, and Odisha are infected, and no other regions in India have reported the virus. 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.
The tomato flu virus shows symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 (fever, fatigue, and aches initially). Some Covid-19 patients reported skin rashes. Some Indian doctors believe the new virus is not related to SARS-CoV-2, suggesting instead that the Tomato flu is an after-effect of chikungunya or dengue fever in children and not a viral infection.
Other doctors believe the virus may be a new variant of the hand, foot, and mouth disease, a common viral infectious disease in children ages 1 to 5, as well as immunocompromised adults.
So far, the Tomato flu infection ends by itself and there are no specific drugs to treat it.
Like other types of influenza, the Tomato flu is very contagious, and so the authorities in India have enforced mandatory isolation of confirmed or suspected cases and other precautionary steps to prevent the outbreak of the tomato flu virus from Kerala to other parts of India. Isolation should be followed for 5 to 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 sanitization of the surrounding necessities and environment as well as preventing infected children from sharing toys, clothes, or food with other children.
Good health, and good luck!