What’s is tomato flu which affects young children?
The disease is reported to cause several symptoms similar to COVID-19, including fever, fatigue, and body aches. iStock
An outbreak of a contagious disease called tomato flu in India, has experts concerned, as the disease is reported to cause several symptoms similar to the COVID-19 disease, including fever, fatigue, and body aches.
Tomato flu is reported to mainly affect children aged between one and five years old. But though the disease is supposed to be very contagious, it has been found to be non-fatal, reports the Mirror.
Everyday Health explains that the virus got its name from one tell-tale symptom (which is not seen with Covid-19) — bright red painful blisters that spread all over the body and which can gradually increase to the size of a tomato.
According to a report in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine (on August 17) despite the virus being rare, at least 100 cases have been reported in India since the first case was identified in the state of Kerala on May 6.
Additionally, the risk of the disease is also said to be low, with no cases reported outside India. However, health experts warn that it’s important to be vigilant as tomato flu is a contagious virus, and has potential to spread outside India as well.
Though the cause of tomato flu is not exactly known, experts reportedly believe that it might either be a variant of hand foot and mouth disease (caused by enterovirus) or an after-effect of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever.
Speaking about the disease and the duration it lasts, Dr Monika Wassermann, MD at Boutiquetoyou.com told the Mirror, “The good news is that it can go away within 10 days. However, if symptoms persist consult your doctor immediately.”
According to Dr Monika the main symptoms of tomato flu include:
• Rashes/tomato-like blisters
• Skin irritation
Some of the other symptoms that children may experience are:
• Joint aches and pain
Tomato flu is reported to spread from child to child, via close contact such as when playing, touching or sitting with infected children, the Mirror informs.
Also, the infection is said to resolve on its own, if symptoms are controlled. However, if the symptoms are left untreated, there could be serious consequences (due to dehydration caused by the disease) including stones in the kidney, constipation and low blood volume shock, which could be fatal.
Dr Monika advises, “I wish to inform parents to monitor their kids closely. They should avoid touching blisters when spotted and reach out to a healthcare provider. They should also ensure that kids get a healthy diet and all necessary vaccines for boosted immunity.”
According to the Lancet, treatment for tomato flu is similar to what’s done for young children with chikungunya and dengue — lots of fluids, rest, and hot water sponge baths to relieve irritation from rashes. Children may also be given fever-reducing medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.