'Tomato flu' outbreak causes panic due to monkeypox-like symptoms
An outbreak of a strange, monkeypox-like infection in India has put the local authorities on high alert due to concerns over an outbreak.
The health authorities in India are on high alert following the breakout of a mysterious illness named "tomato flu" that has symptoms similar to those of monkeypox.
The virus has left authorities scrambling and caused widespread panic after New Delhi registered more than 80 cases since early May. The disease gets its name, "tomato flu" or "tomato fever", from the red blisters it causes.
The viral infection mainly affects children under the age of five. Just like the monkeypox virus, infected individuals develop symptoms that include the appearance of large rashes on the whole body in the form of extremely painful and contagious red blisters.
Local reports suggest that the virus can lead to tiredness, joint pain, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, high fever, and body aches.
Check out: Monkeypox: Should you be worried?
Several virologists say "tomato flu" could be a new variant of the foot-hand-mouth viral infection, which is largely common among children.
"It is not a fatal disease, but it is contagious and can spread from person to person, although the actual ways in which the infection spreads are still being studied," Dr. Subhash Chandra, assistant professor of Internal Medicine at the Amrita Hospital, told India Today on Friday.
"Patients who develop tomato fever should drink plenty of fluids and rest in bed, as it is also advised for other viral fevers, to keep the body hydrated and well-rested," he added.
Medical professionals are unsure of how to treat the illness, and they are currently only tackling symptoms of the flu.
Experts are currently trying to figure out whether "tomato flu" is a viral fever or an aftereffect of tropical diseases such as dengue fever.
Though the majority of the cases have been discovered in the southern Indian state of Kerala, health officials throughout the country have upped their state of alert and are currently looking at ways they can contain the virus.
"If someone is infected with this flu, they need to be kept in isolation as this could spread rapidly from one person to another," Dr. P Aruna, the deputy director of health services at Coimbatore told The Indian Express.