It's been reported that an outbreak of tomato flu, a new and rare viral infection found in children, has been detected in the southern Indian state of Kerala in July 2022. No cases have been reported in Australia and scientists are still trying to identify what this virus is at the time of writing.

While there's no need to be alarmed, it's important that we take an in-depth look into what tomato flu is, what we know so far, and what can be done to stay safe. Please note that this is a new disease and more information will continue to come out, so stay tuned for further updates.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.


What is tomato flu and how is it spread?

Tomato flu is a non-life threatening but highly infectious disease that has predominantly affected young children aged one to five and immunocompromised adults. The name for the disease comes from the eruption of painful red blisters that spread throughout the body, some of which can grow as big and as red as a tomato.

While the disease is non-life threatening, it's been reported that tomato flu is highly contagious and can be contracted through close contact with an infected person.

Signs and symptoms

Scientists note that tomato flu symptoms are similar to dengue fever and chikungunya virus, and appears to be a variant of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) though further study is still required.

Confirmed symptoms for tomato flu include:

  • Sore, red blisters that appear on the skin

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Joint pain

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Dehydration

  • Body aches

  • Common influenza-like symptoms.

Treatment and prevention

As this is a new disease, there are no antiviral drugs or vaccines available to treat or prevent tomato flu at the time of writing.

For those who have contracted tomato flu, the recommendation is to isolate the infected individual for five to seven days from the onset of symptoms in order to prevent spreading the infection to other children or adults.

Scientists note that the disease is non-life threatening and self-limiting, meaning patients will recover after a few weeks. In addition to isolation, current treatments involve the easing of symptoms and include:

  • Resting

  • Plenty of fluids to stay hydrated

  • Hot water sponges for relief of irritation and rashes

  • Paracetamol for fever and aches.

For preventing tomato flu, the best means of prevention is maintaining proper hygiene and sanitisation practices, and preventing infected individuals from sharing clothes, toys, and food with non-infected people.

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Information sourced from: ABC, RACGP, and The Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal

Image credit: Pixabay on Pexels

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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