As tomato fever scare spreads in India, here’s how to protect your children

Tomato flu is causing an unexplained fever in children in certain parts of India. Learn about its signs, causes, treatment, and safety measures.
mosquito bites in children
Tomato flu is contagious. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Aayushi Gupta Updated: 23 Oct 2023, 12:47 pm IST
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In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, other additional flu and illnesses are spreading. Tomato fever or tomato flu is one of them. The first case of this extremely rare viral illness, which causes blisters that resemble tomatoes and affects 80 children under the age of five, was first reported in Kerala on May 11, 2022. Due to contagious nature, the neighbouring states of Kerala, have also been warned that if prevention measures are not followed promptly, the infection could spread to other states as well.

Awareness is the need of the hour to recognize the diseases at an early stage to avoid complications. So, here’s all about tomato fever.

What is tomato flu?

The name “tomato flu” has been derived from the fact that the blisters are typically rounded and red in colour. Those who are affected by it get skin irritation, blisters, rashes, and dehydration. It is not yet known with certainty if its causative agent is connected to chikungunya, a viral infection, or dengue fever.

tomato flu
Children are susceptible to tomato flu. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

To explain all about tomato flu in detail, HealthShots spoke to Dr Jagdish Kathwate, Consultant Neonatologist, and Paediatrician, Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi, Pune.

Dr Kathwate says, “Tomato flu is an infectious viral disease that occurs due to intestinal viruses and is commonly seen in children under five. Anyone afflicted by tomato flu will have to be kept in isolation as it is contagious.”

Adults, however, are also prone to the illness. Usually, this disease poses less of a threat, but in some cases, it may result in a brain fever, so it’s crucial to spot the illness early and get treatment.

Symptoms of tomato flu

Most of the time, those children infected with this virus experience fever, rashes, skin irritation, and severe dehydration. The tomato flu can lead to blisters on several parts of the body, which are mainly red in colour.

Dr Kathwate says, “Fever, painful sores in the mouth, a rash with blisters on hands, feet, and buttocks, tiredness, joint pain, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, high fever, and body aches, are some of the signs of tomato flu. They are similar to the symptoms of chikungunya. Additionally, this flu can affect the child’s ability to do his/her daily activities with ease.”

Other symptoms include discoloration of the skin on the hands, knees, and buttocks.


The leading cause of this flu still remains unknown. That’s why there isn’t yet a specific medication or treatment for this flu, but it is a self-limiting one. This means the symptoms go away over time if supportive care is given.

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Here are a few tips to tackle this infection

Tips for infected children:

  1. Children with tomato flu should bathe in cold water.
  2. Apply a skin lotion after a bath to soothe irritated skin.
  3. Avoid scratching the skin as the infection can spread.
  4. Drink enough water to stay hydrated. Boiled water is recommended.
  5. Cleanliness and hygiene should be maintained around children.
  6. Keep a distance from the infected person.
  7. Avoid spicy and salty foods.
  8. Take enough rest throughout the day.
  9. Follow the medication prescribed by the doctor to bring the fever down.


tomato flu
You need to be very careful. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips to prevent getting this infection:

Children should avoid contact with those who have tomato flu, refrain from sharing utensils, clothes, and other items used by the infected individual, and practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the illness.

What if you see any symptoms?

If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, make sure you visit the doctor. Ask you kid to avoid scratching blisters, rashes, or other sores. Practice good hygiene, and allow you kid to rest. Also, make sure your child is drinking plenty of water.

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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