No need to panic about Tomato flu as no serious cases reported so far

-By Dr Manu Chaudhary

What is Tomato Flu?

Children below five years of age have been suffering from a viral infection, called ‘tomato flu’. It was first reported in Kerala’s Kollam. More than 80 cases of tomato flu have been reported in Kollam.


The Symptoms of the disease include rashes and skin irritation. Children also complain of tiredness, joint pain, high fever and body aches. Discolourations of the hands, knees, buttocks are some other symptoms. Infected children may also present with abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Other symptoms include coughing, sneezing and a runny nose.


The presentation of Tomato Flu is similar to Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) caused by Coxsackie virus which we see outbreaks of often during summer and rainfall time. It causes rash over the hands, soles and mouth ulcers. Patients can also have fever. My educated guess is as the rash can look red like a tomato and hence the name for the recent outbreak as tomato flu/fever. The rash is usually non itchy, non painful. Children with dry skin issues can have exaggerated presentation of the rash. The spread is through the oral and lesion secretions. Outbreaks happen in daycare, schools, and summer camps. The diagnosis is clinical and no blood test is required. Fever resolves in 2-4 days, oral ulcers in 5-6 days and rash in 2-7days.


Children can be managed at home with oral rehydration and liquid soft diet, fever control with antipyretics like paracetamol and rash care with moisturization and lacto calamine lotions. Seek medical help if a child is dehydrated for a long time due to refusal to eat or behavior changes including irritability or lethargy. Prevent the infection by good hand hygiene and cleaning the secretions on toys and surfaces. Children can be sent back to childcare or school once lesions are drying up and fever resolving.


So far no serious complication has been reported related to the newly named Tomato fever which we in the medical fraternity so far suspect is probably the same as HFMD or similar virus causing the infection.

Dr. Manu Chaudhary

Peds Infectious Diseases Consultant (American Board certified)
Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Marathalli

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