PC: Times Of India

Health authorities in India have issued a health advisory in response to the discovery of more than 100 cases of a new, rare viral virus that affects young children.

The disease known as tomato flu, which is named after the painful red blisters it causes, has so far been found in 82 children under the age of five in Kerala, where the first case was discovered on May 6.

Since then, Odisha in the east and the adjacent state of Tamil Nadu, where children as old as nine have been afflicted, have both reported an additional 26 cases.

The virus is not life-threatening, according to India’s health ministry, but this week it issued testing and prevention guidelines to all states, advising parents to be particularly watchful in looking for signs in their children, according to the Times of India.

Describe tomato flu.

The viral virus known as tomato flu is very contagious and spreads through close contact, especially among young children under the age of five.

Along with the eponymous tomato-like blisters, symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, dehydration, swelling in the joints, body aches, and typical influenza-like symptoms.

The virus’s root cause is still being sought after by researchers. Despite sharing some symptoms with SARS-CoV-2 [Covid-19], they claim that it is unrelated, according to a report last week in the British medical journal The Lancet.

It is more likely that the virus is a side effect of either dengue fever or chikungunya, two viral infections spread by mosquitoes.

Alternately, it can be a fresh strain of the viral hand, foot, and mouth disease, which primarily affects children and individuals with impaired immune systems between the ages of one and five.

PC: Hindustan Times

Whom and how can you catch it?

Since viral infections are widespread in children this age and propagation is most probable through close contact, children are more likely to be exposed to tomato flu.

Additionally, the fact that they use diapers, touch dirty surfaces, and put objects straight in their mouths puts them at a very high risk.

However, if the outbreak is not contained and transmission continues unchecked, older individuals may be at risk.

The Lancet report stated that if the tomato flu outbreak in children is not contained and stopped, transmission might have major repercussions by spreading to adults as well given the disease’s resemblance to hand, foot, and mouth disease.

Being a self-limiting condition, tomato flu frequently goes away on its own without medical intervention.

Health officials have recommended individuals to take preventative steps, such as isolating suspected cases for five to seven days after the onset of symptoms, to stop the outbreak from spreading.

The Lancet paper stated that maintaining good hygiene and sanitising the immediate surroundings and environment, as well as forbidding the sick child from exchanging toys, clothes, food, or other objects with other non-infected children, are the best solutions for prevention.