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Tomato Flu – All You Need to Know

Just when it seems that the COVID-19 scenario is settling down, and we may get some respite from irritating viruses, another viral disease, “Tomato Flu”, has crept its way into Kerala!

Tomato flu, also known as tomato fever, is a viral disease which causes blisters that resemble tomatoes. Tomato Flu largely affects children below five years of age, who experience undiagnosed fever.

Amid concerns about this infection, there are some lingering questions about the nature of this disease, its causes, symptoms, treatment and more. Read on to get answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the tomato flu.

What is tomato flu?

Tomato flu is a viral disease which results in blisters/rashes on several parts of the body, skin irritation, and dehydration in children, mostly below five years of age. Generally, the shape of blisters is red and when they get quite large, resemble tomatoes and therefore it is called tomato fever or tomato flu.

However, whether the causative agent of tomato fever is related to dengue fever or chikungunya (a viral fever) remains uncertain.

What are the symptoms?

The primary symptoms of the disease include:

  1. Large blisters, the size of tomatoes that are red in colour
  2. Rashes
  3. Skin irritation
  4. High fever
  5. Dehydration
  6. Body aches
  7. Joint swelling.

Some other symptoms include:

  1. Discoloration of hands, knees and buttocks
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Abdominal cramps
  5. Fatigue
  6. Coughing
  7. Sneezing
  8. Runny nose

What are the causes of tomato flu?

The causes of the disease are still unknown. Health officials are still investigating the causes of Tomato Flu. According to the latest reports, only parts of Kollam have seen tomato flu in India, but health officials have warned that this could spread to other regions if quick action is not taken on time.

Is Tomato flu contagious?

Like other cases of flu, tomato flu is also contagious. Infected children need to be kept in isolation as this flu could spread rapidly from one person to another.

Is there cause for worry?

Although it is undoubtedly contagious, health officials have lent reassurance, suggesting that it is not lethal and can be treated. However, it is advisable to avoid close contact with the infected child.

What to do when your child gets Infected?

  1. Contact the doctor immediately
  2. Maintain proper hygiene
  3. Do not let your child scratch the blisters
  4. Keep your child hydrated by making him/her drink boiled water
  5. Use warm water for bathing the child
  6. Avoid close contact with the infected person 
  7. Clothes, utensils, and other items used by the infected child must be sanitized to prevent the flu from spreading

How can tomato flu be treated?

Currently, there is no specific treatment for tomato flu. Therefore, this disease can only be managed symptomatically.

How to prevent tomato flu’s spread?

To curb the chances of contracting tomato flu, you have to avoid close contact with the infected person.

Does Tomato Flu have anything to do with COVID-19?

While some symptoms are similar to COVID-19, Tomato Flu has nothing to do with COVID-19. Such symptoms are generally seen in other types of viral infections as well. Therefore, there is no need to panic as the authorities have been asked to remain alert.

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