Just as we are dealing with the probable emergence of fourth wave of COVID-19, a new virus known as tomato flu, or tomato fever, has emerged in India in the state of Kerala in children younger than 5 years.

Indian subcontinent/CIA

The rare viral infection is in an endemic state and is considered non-life-threatening; however, because of the dreadful experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vigilant management is desirable to prevent further outbreaks.

Although the tomato flu virus shows symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 (both are associated with fever, fatigue, and bodyaches initially, and some patients with COVID-19 also report rashes on the skin), the virus is not related to SARS-CoV-2. Tomato flu could be an after-effect of chikungunya or dengue fever in children rather than a viral infection.

The virus could also be a new variant of the viral hand, foot, and mouth disease, a common infectious disease targeting mostly children aged 1–5 years and immunocompromised adults, and some case studies have even shown hand, foot, and mouth disease in immunocompetent adults.

Tomato flu is a self-limiting illness and no specific drug exists to treat it.

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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.

Read more in The Lancet

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