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Tomato Flu Outbreak In India: As Severe As Covid-19?

Author: Medical Team (Alniche Life Sciences)


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After the cataclysmic and lethal destruction caused by COVID-19 in the past few years, India is still handling its wrath with the ongoing fourth wave. However, this strife is seeming to be unending as every new season a new virus is emerging such as recent outbreak of Monkeypox which has been declared as a public health emergency by WHO.

Recently a new virus named as Tomato virus is emerged in India which is on its way to become a new pandemic if not properly handled. This new virus is commonly found among children and immunocompromised adults.  The naming of the flu is done on the basis of red and painful blisters throughout the body that eventually grow to the size of Tomatoes. It typically affects children under five years on their mouth, foot and hand. Since the virus was first discovered in Kerala on May 6, India has reported 82 instances of Tomato flu, according to a Lancet Respiratory Journal.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was such a terrible experience, cautious management is preferred to stop additional outbreaks of the uncommon viral illness, despite it being in endemic stage and considered as non-life threatening.

About the Flu

The virus is the novel variant of foot, mouth and hand disease occurring in children in lower age groups (less than five years) and immunocompetent adults. It is a self-limiting illness with no specific drug treatment available. The symptoms are similar to Covid-19 (Initial fever, body aches and fatigue with rashes on the skin which was also reported by the Covid-19 patients) but the virus is not associated with SARS-CoV-2 virus. The virus is contagious and can spread through close contact with the infected individual. The initial symptoms of Tomato flu are found to be similar to chikungunya, having rashes, intense pain in joints and high fever.

As the naming of the flu has been done there is eruption of red-painful blisters all over the body. The blisters are similar as found in the individuals infected with Monkeypox virus.

Nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, fatigue, dehydration, fever, body aches, joints inflammation, and common influenza like symptoms are the other symptoms associated with Tomato flu which shows similarity with dengue. 


Molecular and serological testing is performed to diagnose chikungunya, dengue, zika virus, herpes and varicella-zoster virus in children. If the presence of any of the diseases is not found, then the Tomato virus is diagnosed as no direct diagnostic tool is available.

Treatment and Precautions

As the flu resembles dengue and chikungunya the treatment given is also similar consisting of complete isolation, consumption of adequate fluids, proper rest and for the relief from rashes and irritation hot water sponge can be used. Antipyretics such as paracetamol and other symptomatic treatment is opted as supportive therapy.

Maintenance of good hygiene with regular sanitization along with the complete isolation (5-7 days) of suspected or confirmed cases is very crucial to tackle this contagious virus.


Way Forward

Inspite of being in endemic stage and non-life threatening, the Tomato virus is highly contagious hence all the precautions and safety measures should be adopted to stop its further transmission. Till now there is no availability of any vaccine or antiviral drug to stop the spread of this flu. There is need of further monitoring for serious outcomes and follow-up to achieve the clarity in understanding the virus for development of potential therapy.



  1. Chavda, V. P., Patel, K., & Apostolopoulos, V. (2022). Tomato flu outbreak in India. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
  2. Sudhakar K. Alert in Karnataka over Tomato flu. The Hindu. May 12, 2022. https://www. in-karnataka-over-Tomato-flu/ article65405330.ece (accessed June 24, 2022).
  3. Guzman M, Gubler D, Izquierdo A. et al. Dengue infection. Nat Rev Dis Primers 2016; 2: 16055.