- The new outbreak has raised officials’ concerns after it has affected at least 100 children in India.
- The disease has been dubbed “tomato flu” by researchers.
- No deaths due to illness have been reported.
Ever since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, people have been more concerned than ever about the potential threats of the disease.
The newest of these is called “tomato flu”, and according to a recent correspondence in
The authors report that tomato flu, probably a viral disease, was first identified in the Kollam district of Kerala, India on May 6, 2022.
According to The Lancet, the disease is considered non-life-threatening and resolves on its own over time.
The Lancet reports that the primary symptoms seen in infected children resemble those of
Like many viral infections, other symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, dehydration, joint swelling, body aches, and general flu-like symptoms that resemble those
“Transmission likely occurs through close contact,” Hannah Newman, MPH, director of infection prevention at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Healthline.
“The virus has been named tomato flu because of the red, painful blisters it causes, which can mimic the look and size of a tomato,” Newman explained.
She said that while the disease is considered non-life-threatening, it can cause a nasty rash, fever and joint pain.
“We don’t know exactly what causes the disease,” admitted Robert Glatter, MD, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “But it’s possible that it could be a variant of foot-and-mouth disease or a consequence of chikungunya or mosquito-borne dengue.”
The authors of the Lancet correspondence suggest that this disease may even be a new type of disease of the hands, feet and mouth. Hand and foot-and-mouth disease is the result
Since it is a contagious virus, there is a possibility of the disease spreading outside of India, Newman warned.
Similar to what happened with COVID-19 and monkeypox, routine air travel can carry a new pathogen almost anywhere, and it can start to affect older people.
“Given the similarities to hand, foot and mouth disease, if an outbreak of tomato influenza in children is not controlled and prevented, transmission can lead to serious consequences, spreading to adults,” the authors of the correspondence write.
“It is also thought to be spread by contact with clothing, bedding, towels, sheets, toys, books, or other non-porous surfaces of an infected person, similar to monkeypox,” Glatter said.
He added that while the tomato flu virus may be a variant or “side effect” of hand foot and mouth disease, there is no evidence that the disease is airborne or even airborne, based on the Lancet report.
Glatter also believes that chikungunya and dengue fever, both endemic to the region, could put both the elderly and young children at risk of tomato virus infection.
“Because their immune systems may not be as strong after recovering from these mosquito-borne viruses,” he said.
Glatter confirmed that there is currently no vaccine or antiviral drug to treat the disease. However, much can be done to relieve someone’s discomfort until the infection clears up.
“Maintenance therapy, including acetaminophen for fever and pain, along with hydration will help patients feel better,” Glatter advised. “Warm compresses can help relieve the discomfort associated with the painful nature of the rash.”
Newman said ways to prevent tomato flu include quickly isolating infected patients and practicing proper hand hygiene.
She stressed the need for “environmental disinfection” of surfaces, toys, clothing and other items used by sick people.
“And limiting the sharing of these items between other children and adults,” she added.
What worries us, Glatter said, is that we don’t know how older patients and immunocompromised people will react if they develop the disease.
“However, the risk of community spread is quite low at this time, and people in the US shouldn’t be too worried,” he continued.
Glatter warned that globally, “vigilance is paramount” given what we’ve just been through with COVID-19 and now with monkeypox.
“The priority now is to determine if the tomato virus is a virus at all, let alone a new virus,” he said. Or just a consequence [consequence] recent prior infection with a previously well-known and documented virus.”
A new disease has been identified in children from the southern region of India that resembles some types of mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya.
As long as it’s not life-threatening.
Experts say the cause is still unknown, but it could be a new form of enterovirus, such as the Coxsackie virus, which also causes painful blisters.
They also say the risk of the population spreading is low and people in the US shouldn’t worry too much.