New Viral Infection Called ‘Tomato Flu’ is Now Causing an Outbreak in India


Is it just me, or are we running out of ideas for what to name these diseases?

The latest disease to join the fold of new outbreaks has been dubbed the “Tomato Flu”, and has affected over 100 children in India to date.

According to Times Of India, the first case of the tomato flu was reported in the southern state of Kerala back on 6 May.

By 26 July, it was recorded that over 82 children who were under five years of age caught the disease.

Since then, the disease has spread to three other states—Tamil Nadu, Haryana, and Odisha, and infections included 26 children aged between one and nine in Odisha.

Why the Name?

While scientists are still trying to figure out what exactly the infection is, the term “Tomato Flu” has been used to refer to it because its symptoms include red painful blisters that appear all over the body.

Individuals who have the disease will experience an “eruption of red and painful blisters throughout the body that gradually enlarge to the size of a tomato,” according to an article published on 17 August by the British medical journal, Lancet. According to the researchers, the blisters have a similar appearance to those observed on young monkeypox patients.

The disease is allegedly highly contagious, and predominantly affects children due to the nature of the infection being able to spread easily through close contact.

If you have children, you’ll know everything in the world seems edible to them when left unattended, so instances whereby unclean toys are placed directly into their mouths makes them particularly prone to having the virus enter their system.

The virus can also spread through use of nappies, touching unclean surfaces, and interacting with other infected children, the journal added.

Now, does that sound familiar?

Could Be a Variant of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Scientists studying the illnesses have speculated that the tomato flu could be a clinical variant of the hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is also a common disease that children under five get.

While it is not considered life-threatening, further symptoms of the flu which includes fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, dehydration, swelling of joints and other common influenza-like symptoms, are similar to those manifested in dengue. Hence, scientists have posited that it could also be an aftereffect of dengue or the chikungunya virus.

They also added that although the tomato flu virus shows symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, as both are associated with fever, fatigue, and bodyaches initially, with some patients reporting rashes on their skin, the virus is not related to SARS-CoV-2. 

Necessary Measures to Prevent Further Outbreak

Given that the tomato flu is highly contagious, researchers have cautioned that it is mandatory to follow careful isolation of confirmed or suspected cases and other precautionary steps to prevent the outbreak of the virus from spreading to more parts of India. It has also been solely infecting children as of now, though the chances of it spreading to adults are high if proper measures are not taken.

In terms of preventive measures, maintaining good hygiene practices and sanitising high-touch surfaces is necessary, as well as preventing infected children from sharing toys, food, or clothes with other non-infected children.


As it is also a self-limiting illness, meaning it will be resolved spontaneously without treatment, no specific drug is currently available.

Those who have gotten it should isolate for at least 5-7 days from first experiencing symptoms, rest, drink plenty of fluids, and use a hot water sponge to relief the rashes.

To know more about another virus that has been on people’s radar, watch this video to the end:

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Featured Image: Tatiana Buzmakova /