Home / News / India /  Tomato flu risk higher among young children, warns new study. Check symptoms, details here

A new study published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal has warned that young children are potentially at increased risk of exposure to tomato flu. The study additionally noted that if the infection is not controlled and prevented among the young children, the transmission might lead to serious consequences by spreading in adults as well.

Notably, the tomato flu, or tomato fever, was first identified in Kollam district of Kerala on May 6 and since then the rare viral infection has been reported in 82 children younger than five years of age by local government hospitals as of July 26, news agency PTI reported. Interestingly, now apart from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Odisha have reported cases of tomato flu. 

The Lancet report, which was published on August 17, highlighted that “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. Young children are also prone to this infection through use of nappies, touching unclean surfaces, as well as putting things directly into the mouth." Additionally, the report said, “...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."

Tomato flu, the rare viral infection: 

It is important to note that the rare viral infection, which got its name on the basis of the eruption of red and painful blisters throughout the body that gradually enlarges to the size of a tomato, is currently in an "endemic state," according to the PTI report. While the study explained that even though considered the infection is considered to be non-life-threatening, a vigilant management is desirable to prevent further outbreaks, especially on the back of the dreadful experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

What are the symptoms of tomato flu?

The virus reportedly shows symptoms similar to those of Covid-19, including fever, fatigue, body aches and rashes on skin. The report in the medical journal further suggests that it could be an after-effect of chikungunya or dengue fever in children rather than a viral infection, noting that “the virus could also be a new variant of the viral hand, foot, and mouth disease, a common infectious disease targeting mostly children aged 1–5 years and immunocompromised adults..." As of now, no antiviral drugs or vaccines are available for the treatment or prevention of tomato flu, as per report.

(With inputs from PTI)

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