As we grapple with the growing possibility of a fourth wave of COVID-19, a new viral illness called “tomato flu” or “tomato fever” has emerged in children under 5 years of age in the Indian state of Kerala. This rare viral infection, although not typically life-threatening, requires cautious management due to our recent experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Understanding Tomato Flu
Some symptoms of tomato flu are similar to those of COVID-19, including fever, fatigue, body aches and, in some cases, skin rashes. However, it is important to note that this virus is not related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19. It is thought that tomato फीवर may be linked to chikungunya or dengue fever rather than being a new viral infection. Alternatively, it may be a variant of hand, foot and mouth disease, which usually affects children but can also occur in adults. Hand, foot, and mouth disease has also been reported in immunocompetent adults aged 1 to 5 years and older. Currently, there is no specific treatment for tomato flu, and it tends to be a self-limited disease.
The emergence of tomato flu
The first case of tomato flu was identified in Kollam district of Kerala on May 6, 2022. As of July 26, 2022, more than 82 cases of this viral infection in children under 5 years of age were reported by local government hospitals in Kerala. The affected areas in Kerala include Anchal, Aryankavu and Neduvathur. The emergence of tomato fever has also raised concerns in neighboring states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Apart from Kerala, 26 cases in children aged 1 to 9 years have been reported in Odisha by the Regional Medical Research Center in Bhubaneswar. So far, cases of tomato flu have not been reported in any other region of India. However, the Kerala Health Department is taking precautionary measures to keep track of the spread of the virus and prevent its transmission to other parts of the country.
Symptoms and treatment
Children suffering from tomato flu usually experience symptoms similar to chikungunya, including high fever, rashes and severe joint pain. The name “tomato flu” comes from the red, painful blisters that appear all over the body, gradually expanding to the size of a tomato. These blisters are similar to those seen in young people with monkeypox virus. Skin rashes also cause skin irritation, and other symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, dehydration, swollen joints, body aches and common influenza-like symptoms similar to dengue.
To diagnose tomato fever, healthcare providers first rule out other viral infections such as chikungunya, dengue, Zika virus, varicella-zoster virus, and herpes in children. Once these infections are ruled out, the diagnosis of tomato fever is confirmed. Treatment of tomato flu is similar to that of chikungunya, dengue and hand, foot and mouth disease, including isolation, rest, hydration, warm water sponging to soothe rashes and supportive therapy with paracetamol for fever and body pain. Is.
Preventing spread and potential impacts
Close contact with children and behaviors such as touching dirty surfaces and putting objects directly into their mouths puts them at increased risk of getting tomato fever. Given its similarity with hand, foot and mouth disease, it is essential to control and prevent outbreaks of tomato flu in children to prevent its possible transmission to adults, which can have serious consequences.
Like other types of influenza, tomato fever is highly contagious. Therefore, it is important to carefully follow isolation procedures for confirmed or suspected cases and take other precautionary steps to prevent the spread of tomato flu virus from Kerala to other parts of India. Isolation should be maintained for 5-7 days from the onset of symptoms to prevent spread of infection to other children or adults. The best prevention measures include maintaining proper cleaning and sanitation and making sure infected children do not share toys, clothes, food, or other items with uninfected children.
Need for further research
Currently, there are no specific antiviral drugs or vaccines available to treat or prevent tomato flu. Continued research and monitoring are necessary to better understand potential treatments and outcomes associated with this emerging viral disease.
In summary, vigilance, public health measures, and research are critical to address the challenges presented by tomato flu and protect the well-being of the public, especially children, older individuals, and those with underlying health conditions.