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Warning issued over 'tomato flu' with dozens of children already infected

Jayden Collins

Published 
| Last updated 

Warning issued over 'tomato flu' with dozens of children already infected

Scientists have warned that we may be in for another major virus fight with the ‘tomato flu’ showing signs of significant spreading.

We’re still battling Covid-19 as monkey-pox gains a foothold; so may as well throw another virus into the mix. 

The tomato flu, which was fittingly named because of the painful-looking red blisters that pop up on the skin of the patient, was first identified in India back on May 6.

Tomato flu shows similar symptoms to Monkeypox.  Credit: Jozef Polc / Alamy
Tomato flu shows similar symptoms to Monkeypox. Credit: Jozef Polc / Alamy

In a study conducted by The Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal, the flu has so far infected 82 children all under the age of five, with a further 26 suspected cases up to the age of 10. 

The virus comes with fever and joint pain similar to that of Covid-19, however, is not related to the illness.

Other symptoms have included vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, and very rare cases of a change in limb colour. 

The study reports: “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.”

The researchers also did not rule out that the virus could be a new variant of the viral hand, foot, and mouth disease that has become more common in children under the age of five. 

Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Credit: Rajeshodayanchal (Creative Commons)
Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Credit: Rajeshodayanchal (Creative Commons)

Children are more likely to become compromised due to close contact and are prone to infection from using nappies, touching unclean surfaces, and their tendency to put dirty things directly in their mouths.

It's probably the one time you’ll want to teach your kid that sharing is not caring. 

The report added: “Given the similarities to hand, foot, and mouth disease if the outbreak of tomato flu in children is not controlled and prevented, transmission might lead to serious consequences by spreading in adults as well.”

Just like with Covid-19, scientists are recommending isolation for confirmed and suspected cases for up seven days to prevent the spread of infection. 

Currently, the disease has only impacted and been identified in the Kollam district of Kerala, but an endemic alert has been triggered in neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. 

There are currently no antiviral drugs or vaccines for the direct treatment of the tomato flu.

Featured Image Credit: Cavan Images / Alamy. Hanna Kuprevich / Alamy.

Topics: Science, Coronavirus, Health

Jayden Collins
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