While not caused by tomatoes, the virus may be a variant of hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Tomatoes are having a spate of bad luck in recent news.
First, I reported we might face a tomato shortage.
Now, doctors in India are sounding the alarm over a new virus dubbed “tomato flu” that has infected over 80 children.
The infection was spotted in May in the southern state of Kerala and it is feared to be a new variant of hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Experts are also probing whether it is the after-effect of a mosquito-borne infection but they have not ruled out an entirely new pathogen.
So far 82 children under five have been diagnosed with tomato fever since May and a further 26 youngsters up to age 10 are suspected cases.
The infection gained its name because it causes an ‘eruption’ of red painful blisters across patients’ bodies that ‘gradually enlarge to the size of a tomato’.
Most patients also suffer high fever and intense joint pain, but fatigue, sickness and diarrhoea have also been reported.
Doctors say it is ‘very contagious’ and they fear it could spill into adult populations if the current outbreak is not brought under control.
An additional ten cases in children are being investigated. The disease’s moniker is derived from the rashes that appear on the body. Though unpleasant, the virus does not appear to cause significant harm or death.
Aptly named for the red blisters that appear on the skin, the new virus comes armed with fever and joint pain.
“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,” the Lancet reported.
“The rare viral infection is in an endemic state and is considered non-life-threatening; however, because of the dreadful experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, vigilant management is desirable to prevent further outbreaks.”
Fortunately, the treatment also appears to be easy and directed at easing symptoms.
In relation to the treatment of the viral disease, the report mentioned that tomato fever patients could be treated similarly to dengue, hand, foot and mouth disease and chikungunya patients treatments.
“Treatment is also similar—i.e., isolation, rest, plenty of fluids, and hot water sponge for the relief of irritation and rashes. Supportive therapy of paracetamol for fever and bodyache and other symptomatic treatments are required,” the Lancet report stated.
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