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Tomato flu outbreak in India spreads to two more states

New viral infections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha

First detected in children in Kerala, India, in May, tomato flu has spread to two other states.

According to Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 82 under-5s in Kerala had the virus as of July 26.

Children as old as 9 have been infected in Tamil Nadu and Odisha, though the virus usually affects under-5s.

Tomato flu outbreak in India spreads to two more states

The virus’s identity is still unknown. Because of the painful red blisters, it causes, it’s called “tomato flu. Children are vulnerable because it spreads easily through close contacts, such as nappy changes, unclean surfaces, or putting things in their mouths.

The rare viral infection is endemic and non-life-threatening, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, vigilant management is needed to prevent further outbreaks.

The symptoms of tomato flu are similar to those of COVID, chikungunya, and dengue fever, making identification difficult. Mosquitoes spread the latter two during India’s rainy season. Kerala is plagued by chikungunya.

The Lancet article says tomato flu in children may be a complication of chikungunya or dengue fever.

The article adds, “The virus could also be a new variant of viral hand, foot, and mouth disease, a common infectious disease targeting mostly children aged one to five years and immunocompromised adults.”

Dr. Suneela Garg, a senior health official in Delhi, said chikungunya and dengue can weaken children’s immune systems and make them susceptible to tomato flu. We have no cases in Delhi, and I’m confident it won’t be a problem.

In recent weeks, India has seen an increase in COVID and swine flu cases.

Prof Dileep Mavalankar of Gandhinagar’s Institute of Public Health said swine flu had declined during COVID but is now rising in big cities. Few people get tested because it’s expensive, so the numbers are unclear. 
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