Home/ Science / Health/  Covid-19, Tomato Fever exhibit similar symptoms. Here's how to differentiate

The Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD), also known as the Tomato Fever has become a cause of concern for health experts as it rapidly spreads with India reporting 82 cases. "Just as we are dealing with the probable emergence of fourth wave of Covid-19, a new virus known as tomato flu, or tomato fever, has emerged in India in the state of Kerala in children younger than 5 years," Lancet said in its report. According to Lancet Respiratory Journal, the first case of 'tomato fever' was reported in Kerala's Kollam on 6 May.

Covid-19 has not loosened its grip on India, while the Monkeypox dagger hangs low, a study punished in the Lancet Respiratory Journal has pointed out that the symptoms of a person suffering from Covid-19 and the one suffering from HFMD or Tomato Fever are similar, but caused by different viruses. 

Here's a detailed understanding of Tomato fever symptoms and their similarity to Covid-19 symptoms

Covid-19, Tomato Fever symptoms

The tomato flu virus shows symptoms similar to those of Covid-19. These symptoms include fever, fatigue, and body-aches initially. Some Covid-19 patients also report rashes on the skin. However, the virus causing Tomato Fever is not related to SARS-CoV-2. 

Tomato flu could be an after-effect of chikungunya or dengue fever in children rather than a viral infection.

Tomato Fever symptoms similar to other diseases

The report in Lancet stated that primary symptoms observed in children with Tomato Fever are similar to those of chikungunya, which include high fever, rashes, and intense pain in joints.

Tomato flu gained its name on the basis of the eruption of red and painful blisters throughout the body that gradually enlarge resembling a tomato. The report stated that these rashes or blisters resemble those seen with the monkeypox virus in young individuals. Rashes appear on the skin with tomato flu that lead to skin irritation.

As with other viral infections, further symptoms include, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, dehydration, swelling of joints, body aches, and common influenza-like symptoms, which are similar to those manifested in dengue.

How Tomato Fever is detected

In children with these symptoms, molecular and serological tests are done for the diagnosis of dengue, chikungunya, zika virus, varicella-zoster virus, and herpes;11 once these viral infections are ruled out, contraction of tomato virus is confirmed.

Causes of Tomato Fever

The infectious disease is caused by intestinal viruses and is rare in adults as they usually have immune systems strong enough to defend them from the virus.

Health experts say that it is a self-limiting illness and no specific drug exists to treat it. They also warned that the infection is "very contagious".

Tomato Fever symptoms

Patients infected with the Tomato Fever virus complain of 


-Red rashes that enlarge resembling a Tomato

-Joint pain

-Stomach cramps






-Runny nose

-High fever

-Body ache. 

Is Tomato fever contagious

The Tomato fever or Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) is highly contagious and spreads through contact. So far, no vaccine is available for the virus.

If someone is infected, then it is necessary for them to remain in isolation. Utensils, clothes and other items used by the infected persons must be sanitised to prevent the flu from spreading. Experts advise rest, plenty of fluids, and hot water sponge for the relief of irritation and rashes for patients infected with the Tomato Fever. 

Indian states that have reported Tomato Fever cases

According to Lancet, other affected areas in Kerala are Anchal, Aryankavu, and Neduvathur. It also said that the surfacing of this illness even triggered an alert in the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

"Additionally, 26 children (aged 1-9 years) have been reported as having the disease in Odisha by the Regional Medical Research Centre in Bhubaneswar. To date, apart from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha, no other regions in India have been affected by the virus," the Lancet report said.


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Updated: 21 Aug 2022, 03:48 PM IST
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