A new viral infection, called “tomato flu”, has been detected in dozens of children in the Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.

According to an article from The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 82 children under the age of five have been diagnosed with the virus in Kerala state alone till July 26.

Cases have now been reported in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu and Odisha, where children as young as nine have been infected, even though the virus usually affects children under five.

The “tomato flu” is spreading

Scientists are still trying to identify exactly what this virus is. It was called the “tomato flu” because of the red, painful blisters it produces on the body, the disease being highly contagious. Children are particularly vulnerable because it is easily spread through close contact, such as through diapers, touching unclean surfaces, or putting contaminated objects in the mouth.

The rare viral infection is in an endemic state and is considered non-life-threatening; however, vigilant management is desirable to prevent further outbreaks,” the article says Lancet, quoted by The Guardian.

Doctors say that diagnosing the flu is difficult because its symptoms are very similar to those of other diseases.

India has problems with COVID-19 and swine flu

The flu outbreak comes as India has seen a steady rise in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, along with swine flu cases.

Professor Dileep Mavalankar, from the Gandhinagar Institute of Public Health, said: “Swine flu declined during the COVID-19 pandemic but is now on the rise again in major cities. But because the test for it is expensive, few people are tested, so the numbers are unclear.”

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