What is Tomato fever? Signs, causes and treatment

Over 80 children in Kerala aged below five have been infected with Tomato fever

tomato-fever-pti Tomato fever is not a life-threatening disease but it is contagious | PTI

The term Tomato fever comes from the fact that the fever causes rashes which are red in color. The rashes can turn into blisters. Sometimes they become very large, and red in color, somewhat resembling like tomatoes, says Dr Monalisa Sahu, consultant, infectious diseases, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad. They may be present all over the body including the face and the palm.

The other common symptoms of Tomato fever include high grade fever, body pain, joint pains, fatigue, diarrhoea etc similar to chikungunya. Skin irritation and dehydration are also common in children with Tomato fever. Sometimes they present with symptoms of flu like runny nose, cough and sneezing. Discolouration of the hands, knees, buttocks are some other symptoms, says Dr Laxman Jessani, Consultant, Infectious Disease, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.

Tomato fever is not a life-threatening disease but it is contagious. “The rashes may sometimes subside with some peeling of the skin,” says Dr. Subhash Chandra, assistant professor, Internal Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Kochi. 

The real cause of tomato fever is still not ascertained completely. “It is yet to identify which group of virus it is caused by,” says Dr Paranjit Bhowmik, director, Internal medicine at Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, Faridabad. 

Studies indicate that it is either a viral fever or is an after-effect of an infection like chikungunya or dengue fever, says Dr. Trupti Gilada, Consultant Physician in Infectious Disease, Masina Hospital, Mumbai. Some experts like Dr. John Paul M, consultant in Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, SPARSH Hospital, Bengaluru believe that the clinical picture of Tomato fever closely resembles a disease entity called Hand Foot and Mouth disease caused by virus. 

It is important for patients to maintain adequate hydration to prevent dehydration. They must be kept in isolation. Proper rest and hygiene are also advised, says Dr Srikanta J T, consultant - Paediatric Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru. 

Dr Kirti Sabnis, infectious disease specialist at Fortis Hospital Kalyan and Mulund does not recommend antiviral therapies for children with Tomato fever as the exact cause of the infection is not known.