Another endemic viral illness triggered an alert in the nation as more than 82 cases have been reported to infect the young population in India. A new virus known as tomato flu, or tomato fever, has recently emerged in India, and since its inception in Kerala, on May 6 this year additional, 26 children (aged 1–9 years) have also been reported to be manifested by the disease in Odisha by the Regional Medical Research Centre in Bhubaneswar.
What is Tomato flu?
Tomato flu is a rare, highly contagious but non-life-threatening infection. Though the specific cause of the illness is still unknown, it is deemed to be a rare form of viral infection, a side effect of dengue or chikungunya, or a new variant of the viral hand, foot, and mouth disease. Scientists have determined that enteroviruses are the source of the fever, but they have not yet determined to which specific virus family it belongs. Its name is based on its symptoms of the eruption of red and painful blisters throughout the body that gradually enlarges to the size of a tomato.
Who is at risk?
Doctors have warned that children below five years of age are highly prone to infection. It is highly contagious and can spread faster among kids and even with immune-compromised adults. Young children are also prone to this infection through the use of nappies, touching unclean surfaces, sharing toys, as well as putting things directly into the mouth. Like other viral infections, it can also spread through close contact, mainly by touching unclean surfaces and sharing clothes, food, and other items with the infected person. Given the similarities to hand, foot, and mouth disease, untreated and uncontrolled tomato fever might lead to severe consequences by spreading in adults as well.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The chief characteristics of tomato fever are red blisters, rashes, skin irritation, and dehydration. The infected person may also feel fatigued, observe a change in the color of their hands and legs, and suffer from joint discomfort, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The symptoms may also include cough and cold, headache, and body aches.
What are the preventive measures and treatment methods recommended for Tomato Fever infection?
Tomato flu is a self-limiting infectious disease as the symptoms resolve after a few days. To date, there is no specific drug to treat tomato fever; however, supportive therapy of paracetamol for fever and body aches and other symptomatic treatments can be administered to eliminate the symptoms. As tomato flu is considered to be a clinical variant of hand-foot-mouth disease, chikungunya, and dengue, the preventive measures and treatment methods are similar, which include –
ensuring good hygiene
maintaining sanitization of the surrounding
hot water sponge for the relief of irritation and rashes
getting adequate rest
drinking plenty of water and fluids
refraining from scratching their blisters
Isolation for 5-7 days from the onset of the symptoms is essential to stop the infection from spreading from the infected individual to a healthy individual.
Though no other regions in India have been affected by 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.
Drug repurposing and vaccination regimen are crucial as they are the most efficacious and cost-effective approaches to safeguard from viral infections, especially in children, older people, immune-compromised people, and those with underlying health issues.
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