Doctors have sounded an alarm over the “emergence of a new non-life-threatening” virus called tomato flu among children below five years of age.
In the recent Lancet Respiratory Journal, published on August 17, the doctors said that the flu was first identified in Kerala’s Kollam in May and as of July 26, “more than 82 children younger than 5 years with the infection have reported by the local government hospitals.
Additionally, 26 children (aged 1–9 years) have been reported as having the disease in Odisha by the Regional Medical Research Centre in Bhubaneswar.
To date, apart from Kerala, Tamilnadu, and Odisha, no other regions in India have been affected by the virus.
“The primary symptoms observed in children with tomato flu are similar to those of chikungunya, which include high fever, rashes, and intense pain in joints. Tomato flu gained its name on the basis of the eruption of red and painful blisters throughout the body that gradually enlarge to the size of a tomato. These blisters resemble those seen with the monkeypox virus in young individuals,” says the report.
As yet, no antiviral drugs or vaccines are available for the treatment or prevention of tomato flu.