“Tomato flu”: Experts warn of a new virus

There has been a virus outbreak in India. / "Tomato flu": Experts warn of a new virus

Dozens of children are infected. With the “tomato flu” painful blisters appear all over the body. / Tomato flu

Corona, monkeypox, Langya henipa virus: Now researchers are again warning of a new pathogen, the so-called “tomato flu”. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal reports that the virus was first detected in May in the southern Indian state of Kerala. So far, at least 82 cases are known, all those affected are children under the age of five.

The “tomato flu” owes its name to the appearance of red and painful blisters all over the body of the infected person, which can grow to the size of a tomato as the disease progresses. According to the researchers, the blisters resembled those that occur in young people with the monkeypox virus. In addition to the rashes, the other symptoms are similar to those of the flu: painful limbs, fatigue, fever, headaches, but also vomiting and diarrhea.

Could the outbreak in India turn into a pandemic? The risk is low, write the scientists. “The rare virus infection is endemic and is not considered life-threatening,” it says. The virus is not yet widespread, but you still have to monitor it. The governments of the affected regions in India have already taken measures to contain the outbreak.

The new virus is not related to the coronavirus

The experts write in their article that the new virus is not related to Covid-19, even if the symptoms are partly the same. The “tomato flu” is similar to the chikungunya and dengue viruses as well as hand, foot and mouth disease.

However, as with corona and flu infections, compliance with hygiene measures is the best precaution to avoid infection. The experts also recommend that those who are ill should isolate themselves for five to seven days from the onset of symptoms because the virus is “very contagious”. “Given the similarities to hand, foot, and mouth disease, adult transmission could have serious consequences if outbreaks of ‘tomato flu’ in children are not controlled and prevented,” the report reads.

The researchers advise infected people to rest in bed, among other things. So far there are no drugs or vaccines against the virus.

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Tomato Flu: What you need to know

Medical experts are urging vigilance as a new virus impacting children runs rampant across three regions in India.

“Tomato flu” was first identified in the Kollam district of Kerala, India, on May 6 and has so far infected 82 children under the age of 5.

According to the the Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal, the name Tomato Flu comes from the giant, red, tomato sized blisters found throughout the infected body.

What is Tomato Flu?

According to the Lancet report, Tomato Flu is non-life threatening but “highly infectious” disease which needs to be vigilantly managed to prevent further outbreaks.
“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 Lancet reported.

Experts believe the virus could be a new variant of hand, foot and mouth disease, a common infectious disease targeting children under five years and immunocompromised adults.

“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.”

“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,” Lancet reported.

Tomato Flu shows symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 – fever, fatigue, and body aches – but the virus has not been found to be related to SARS-CoV-2.

Tomato flu could be an after-effect of chikungunya – a virus spread to people by mosquitoes – or dengue fever, rather than a viral infection.

Tomato Flu blisters resemble those seen with the monkeypox virus.

Studies into the new outbreak are ongoing.

What are the symptoms of Tomato Flu?

Symptoms of Tomato Flu include:

sore, red blisters that appear on the skin



joint pain




body aches

common influenza-like symptoms

How do you treat Tomato Flu?

Tomato Flu currently has no antiviral drugs or vaccines available for treatment or prevention, with health experts urging “careful isolation” mandatory in preventing the spread.

“Isolation should be followed for 5 to 7 days from symptom onset to prevent the spread of infection to other children or adults,” the Lancet reported.

The medical experts said the best solution for prevention is “hygiene and sanitisation” as well as preventing infected children from sharing toys, clothes and food with non-infected people.

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