Explained: What is Tomato Flu? Causes, symptoms and treatment

As the world continues to battle monkeypox and covid-19, there’s another virus looking to flex its muscles. It’s called ‘tomato flu’.

According to reports, 26 children up to the age of 10 could have ‘tomato flu’, while 82 children under the age of five have been infected so far.

Tomato flu is a rare viral disease that causes red rashes, skin irritation and dehydration, and the disease gets its name from the blisters it causes, which look like tomatoes. It is a form of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).

According to The Lancet, tomato flu is highly contagious but not currently life-threatening. They have also claimed that the rare viral infection is in an endemic state.

It’s called ‘tomato flu’ because of the swollen, red, painful blisters on the skin that morph to the size of a tomato. The disease comes armed with fever, body aches, and joint pain. Some patients have also reported nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, dehydration, swollen joints, and body aches.

Scientists have warned that the disease is highly contagious. There are still no drugs to combat the disease.

So far, most reported cases of tomato flu or tomato fever are in children aged 1 to 9 years. The disease is rare in adults, as they generally have immune systems strong enough to fight off the virus.

Tomato Flu is characterised by the following symptoms.

  • Fever
  • Painful sores in the mouth
  • Rash with blisters on hands, feet and buttocks
  • Body ache
  • Joint swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Skin irritation
  • Dehydration
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea and nausea
  • Vomiting

Treatment measures for tomato flu

Tomato flu or tomato fever is self-limited and there are no specific medications for it. If someone is affected by this disease, they should be kept in isolation as it spreads rapidly from one person to another.

Those found to be infected are asked to remain in isolation for five to seven days. The treatment for tomato flu or tomato fever is similar to chikungunya or dengue as the symptoms are similar. Patients are given plenty of fluids and a hot water sponge to remove the rash.

How to prevent tomato flu?

Disinfection and a hygienic environment are a must to stop the spread of flu or tomato fever. Infected children should be kept in isolation until symptoms have completely resolved and the sharing of food, toys, clothing, and other items should be avoided. Infected children should avoid touching or scratching the blisters.

Parents should immediately consult a nearby doctor if their child shows any of the above symptoms. Infected children are advised to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of purified water. Blisters or rashes should not be scratched and proper cleanliness and hygiene should be maintained. Family and friends should avoid any close contact with the infected person. Patients must rest adequately to avoid the lasting effects of fever.

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