Published: 12th May 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: Kerala reports 80 cases of the sinister tomato flu. Should we be worried?
The flu has so far affected children below the age of 5, and doctors and health officials warn that the cases may increase. Symptoms are similar to that of chikungunya and dengue
Even as speculation over an impending fourth wave of COVID-19 is rife, Kerala is reporting a spike in cases of another viral infection that now has neighbouring states on high alert. Kerala has reported more than 80 cases of tomato fever, a rare viral infection. Here's all you need to know about this infection, and how you can safeguard yourself and your loved ones.
What is tomato fever?
Health officials are still studying this new viral infection, and the exact cause behind it is as yet unknown. However, the symptoms are similar to that of chikungunya and dengue. So far in Kerala, the patients have been children below the age of 5.
Why is it called tomato fever? What are the symptoms?
The nomenclature comes from the red rash that forms on the patient's skin, resembling a tomato. The rash may exacerbate into blisters and skin irritation as well. Other symptoms include high fever, body pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and discolouration of hands, knees and buttocks.
How does it spread?
While the cause of the disease is unknown, Dr Archana M, Consultant-paediatric infectious disease, Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru tells TNIE that the disease is caused by a virus from the Enterovirus genus, most commonly the coxsackievirus. She adds that it is highly infectious, possibly air-borne, and can spread through touch as well. She claims that Bengaluru has also been reporting these cases.
What is the status in Kerala?
The outbreak was first detected in Kerala's Kollam district. The state has so far reported 80 cases of tomato flu in children below the age of 5, and health officials warn that that number is set to rise.
What has the response been from neighbouring states?
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are on high alert and have begun monitoring travel in districts bordering Kerala. The officials claim there have been no cases in the two respective states so far, and that they are monitoring the situation.
What precautions can one take?
Since the cause of the disease is unknown, this can be hard to deduce. However, one must maintain overall hygiene. So far in Kerala, only children below the age of five have contracted the disease. If symptoms are detected, ensure that the afflicted person is well hydrated in a sanitised environment, and takes adequate analgesics for fever. Most importantly, they should refrain from irritating or scratching the blisters.