Tomato fever is an unidentified and fast-spreading type of viral infection seen in young children. Scroll down to know more.
Tomato flu is a contagious disease that usually spreads among young children. It mainly causes high-grade fever, rashes, dehydration, and blisters on the body. The blister appears red, round, and fluid-filled like a tomato. This is why they call it tomato fever. The exact cause of tomato fever is still under debate, although doctors believe it is a viral infection. Children under the age of five are the most commonly affected category among the general population. Hence it may spread fast among small public clusters centered on child care centers and primary schools. Tomato fever is not a dangerous type of disease, although the symptoms can be particularly worrisome for young children. Usually, the symptoms resolve in a span of ten days.
Tomato fever is believed to be caused by a virus. It is still considered to be an unidentified type of fever. Some suspect it as an aftereffect of certain diseases spread by mosquito bites, such as chikungunya (a viral infection causing fever and joint inflammation) or dengue fever (a viral infection causing fever, rashes, and body pain). Blisters of tomato fever are often confused with that of chickenpox. But one should note that the chickenpox eruptions do not develop under the palms and feet. In contrast, one affected by tomato flu may get blisters under the palms and feet. It is more related to another viral infection seen in children known as hand, foot, and mouth disease caused by the Coxsackie virus. One may develop similar blisters under the palms, feet, and inside the mouth in hand, foot, and mouth disease as well.
Once the virus enters the body, symptoms start to appear within three to six days. Most common symptoms include:
Blister-like eruptions under the palms, feet, inside the mouth, lips, buttocks, elbow region, etc. They start as light red patches on the skin and progress to form fluid-filled blisters.
The blisters formed inside the mouth and throat may cause difficulties in swallowing food and beverages. The mouth may get dried up too.
On bursting the blisters, one may end up having painful ulcers.
Skin irritation and general discomfort due to itchiness.
Fatigue and severe body pain.
Loss of appetite.
One may have trouble with dehydration (low water content in the body).
With severe infection, some children show joint swelling, cough, runny nose, and sneezing.
One may get tummy pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as well.
Rarely have some noticed the presence of worms in the blisters.
If the child is showing flu symptoms along with rashes and blisters, one should take him or her to a doctor's consultation without fail. The doctor will ask for the symptoms and their duration. Diagnosis involves identifying the bloody blisters on the body, which are typical of a tomato fever. The positioning of blisters in the body is important too. Diseases with similar symptoms like chickenpox or herpes ulcers should be ruled out. One may mistake it for heat boils too.
There is no particular treatment required for tomato fever. The symptoms usually subside in seven to ten days. The doctor may prescribe:
Drugs like Aspirin or Paracetamol bring down fever, body pain, and general discomfort.
Avoid spicy and salty food to prevent mouth soreness. Warm saline gargles may also help with the blisters inside the mouth.
The doctor may suggest the affected individuals increase their fluid intake so that the body stays hydrated. An infected child should drink a lot of clean boiled water.
Also, one should be careful not to scratch or rub on the blisters and burst them. Allow the blisters to subside on their own.
Bathe the child in warm water to relieve the skin irritation. Applying a skin-soothing lotion may help too.
Put the child to rest as long as the symptoms last so that the effects of fever do not turn bothersome and the blisters heal properly without getting further infected.
Currently, there are no preventive vaccinations available for this disease. Although the symptoms of the disease are most severe in the first seven days, one may have the virus persisting in the body for another week. And throughout this time period, one has the chance of infecting another individual, even after the symptoms subside. As tomato fever affects young children the most, ways to prevent the disease spread are:
Ensuring that social distancing is maintained among the caregivers and the children themselves.
Maintain thorough hygiene and cleanliness. One should keep the children and their surroundings clean and disinfected, especially after diaper changes and toilet training.
Do not let the children share their clothes or toys.
Do not have direct contact with an affected individual, always maintain a safe distance.
Parents should let the affected children stay home and rest. And not send them to school till the contagious period is over. Touching the fluid from the burst blisters may spread the disease to the next person.
Avoid touching the face, mouth, eyes, and nose unnecessarily.
If there is a large-scale spread of infection, causing a public health emergency, the Government may recommend keeping the child care facilities and primary level schools closed for a while till the infection is resolved.
In case one is traveling to a tropical country on vacation or otherwise where an outbreak of tomato fever is frequent, one should take all the appropriate vaccines and get the doctor's advice on how to prevent catching the disease. So that in case one develops the symptoms of tomato fever, they know what to do next. One must share the details about the trip to an infectious disease doctor to avoid local spread.
Tomato fever is of frequent occurrence in the southern states of tropical countries like India. The most important method to prevent the disease from spreading is creating awareness among the general public. Though the adult population does not always develop the symptoms of tomato fever, they may very well act as carriers of the virus. Pediatric doctors, primary grade teachers, and the local authorities should educate the parents on the modes of disease transmission and how to prevent them. Improving general health and hygiene among young children is also a key factor. And if one comes across symptoms like fever and blisters at the time of a tomato flu outbreak, seek early medical assistance and proper guidance to attain fast recovery.
Last reviewed at:
12 May 2022 - 4 min read
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