What are the symptoms of the ‘highly contagious’ tomato flu in children? | The Sun

A NEW “highly contagious” illness is spreading among children.

Doctors say that its symptoms crossover with many other diseases, including flu and Covid.

But the most obvious feature is angry blisters that grow to the size of a tomato – hence the name.

So far 82 children have been diagnosed, all of whom are in India.

No cases outside have been reported, and it is not clear what the risk of it spreading to other countries is.

All children have been under the age of five and haven’t experienced severe illness.

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Writing in the medical journal The Lancet, doctors said tomato flu was “very contagious” and fear it will spill into adults, too.

The symptoms they described were:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Swelling of joints
  • Body aches
  • Rash (blisters)

Describing the rash seen in kids, they said: “Tomato flu gained its name on the basis of the eruption of red and painful blisters throughout the body that gradually enlarge to the size of a tomato.”

They compared the blisters of the rash to those of monkeypox in children.

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The feverish symptoms are similar to dengue and chikungunya, which are both spread by mosquitoes in other parts of the world, including Asia.

In fact, tomato flu could be an “after-effect” of these two viruses, medics reported.

But interestingly, health experts in India believe the infection is a new variant of hand, foot and mouth disease, local media report, as it bears a striking similarity.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is common in kids across the globe, including in the UK and US, and can sometimes affect adults.

At first it causes symptoms of a sore throat, high temperature and loss of appetite before mouth ulcers and a rash appear.

Blisters tend to appear on the hands, feet and buttocks.

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The doctors wrote in The Lancet: “Given the similarities to hand, foot, and mouth disease, if the outbreak of tomato flu in children is not controlled and prevented, transmission might lead to serious consequences by spreading in adults as well.”

They added that isolation of cases was important to stop the bug spreading further than Kerala, the southern Indian state where it was first detected.

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