With ongoing pandemics of Covid-19 and monkeypox, another flu virus, tomato flu has hit India in the regions of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and spreading in children younger than 5 years.
This viral situation is in an endemic state with more than 80 cases registered but no deaths reported till date. The government issued any advisory on the outbreak of Tomato Flu on 23rd August, 2022. Researchers are also engaged in studying the active strains of the causative virus. The alarming facet of this flu is its occurrence in children below the age of 5 years. With the terrible experience with COVID-19 waves, it is better to be aware of the outbreak and precautionary measures for this new flu.
According to the symptoms observed in children, one hypothesis states that it can be the after effect of chikungunya or dengue fever in children, as the season is the peak for the dengue and chikungunya epidemic.1
While another hypothesis states that the tomato flu virus could be a virus strain of the hand, foot, and mouth disease, a common virus targeting children below 5 years. While the adults remain unaffected by it.
What are the symptoms of Tomato flu?
The symptoms of Tomato Flu are clinically more influenza-like and are characterized by:
- Eruption of red blisters throughout the body that are painful
- swelling of joints
- Body ache
Recommended Treatment for Tomato Flu
Since the causative virus for tomato flu is not known yet. Therefore, there is no antiviral drug or vaccine available for the treatment of tomato flu yet. The Treatment of Tomato flu is mostly directed at relieving its symptoms.
The child infected with the tomato virus is recommended:
- Isolation for at least a weak to prevent the risk of an outbreak
- Rest throughout the healing period.
- Have plenty of liquids
- Avoid scratching lessons and maintain optimum humidity levels with humidifiers to get relief from itchy scabs while recovering.
- A lukewarm water sponge is recommended to relieve rashes and irritated skin irritation.
- Keep cleaning their skin with antiseptics to reduce the risk of other skin infections.
- Paracetamol dosage according to age and weight for fever and body ache offers a huge relief.
- Use Contactless thermometers to record the temperature and examine the change in symptoms for a week.
- Get their serological tests done for the diagnosis of dengue, chikungunya, zika virus, varicella-zoster virus, and herpes. If all the viruses are ruled out. Then the infection is probably due to tomato flu.
- Other symptomatic treatments of the flu can be followed after consulting your pediatrician.
- Give your child a nutritious diet and include more food items rich in vitamins A, D, E, and C and antioxidants that will boost immunity and speedy recovery after infection. Foods like carrots, citrus fruits, fruit juices, nuts, seeds, and dairy products are rich in these vitamins.
- Supplement them with multivitamin gummies that will boost their immunity and also prevent the risk of the onset of infection.
Recommended Precautionary measures for Tomato Flu
- Like other influenza viruses, tomato flu is also very contagious. Hence, it is mandatory to follow careful isolation after the onset of symptoms and other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the tomato flu virus from one infected child to another and consequently to other parts of the nation and world.2
- Avoid scratching their blisters.
- Avoid close contact with the infected child.
- Also avoid contact with contaminated clothes, bedding, or other belongings of the infected child.
- It’s important to take care of the hygiene of the child during the incubation period. The virus can reside in the body for many weeks, even after the symptoms of the disease have diminished.
- If the symptoms confirm Hand Foot Mouth Disease, the child should be quarantined and with proper care. The recovery period, in that case, ranges from 8–10 days.
- Follow proper traveling guidelines. The world is already challenged with a wide spread of COVID 19 and Monkeypox, and now tomato flu is heading up to a new threat.
- Lastly, keep your child safe and be aware of the spread of the virus near you and in the country to control its outbreak.