Tomato flu outbreak 2022

An outbreak of a new viral infection referred to as tomato flu that was first detected in children in the southern Indian state of Kerala in May has spread to two other states. Scientists are still trying to identify exactly what this virus is. It has been referred to as tomato flu because of the painful red blisters it produces on the body, and it is very contagious. Children are particularly vulnerable because it spreads easily through close contact, such as via nappies, touching unclean surfaces or putting things in mouths.

According to The Lancet paper reports the tomato flu was first identified in the Kollam district of Kerala on May 6, 2022, and as of July 26, 2022, more than 82 children younger than 5 years with the infection have been reported by the local government hospitals.

According to Professor Vasso Apostolopoulos, Immunology and Translational Group Leader at Victoria University and co-author of The Lancet paper, scientists are still trying to identify exactly what this virus is. ‘Its symptoms are similar to dengue fever and Chikungunya virus, which are common in the area, but it doesn’t appear to be them,’ she said. ‘It has been called tomato virus because the symptoms include small grapelike blisters that can actually grow as big as a tomato and are red like a tomato. It’s got nothing to do with tomatoes or eating tomatoes.

What is tomato flu and its symptoms?

Tomato flu or tomato fever is characterised by fever, joint pain, and red, tomato-like rashes usually seen in children below the age of five years. This is accompanied by other symptoms of viral fevers such as diarrhoea, dehydration, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue.

How to get a Tomato Flu diagnosis?

Patients showing the symptoms listed should go through molecular and serological tests for the diagnosis of dengue, chikungunya, zika virus, varicella-zoster virus, and herpes. Once these viral infections are ruled out, contraction of the tomato virus is confirmed.


The treatment for tomato flu is similar to the treatment of chikungunya, dengue and hand, foot, and mouth disease. Patients are advised to isolate, rest, plenty of fluids, and hot water sponge for the relief of irritation and rashes.


Chavda, Vivek P., Kaushika Patel, and Vasso Apostolopoulos. “Tomato flu outbreak in India.” The Lancet Respiratory Medicine (2022).

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