01/7How is monkeypox different from tomato flu?

The past few years have been extremely difficult for us. Not only in terms of the SARs-CoV-2 virus, but we have also been battling diseases that existed way before the onset of COVID-19.

Over two years into the coronavirus pandemic and we’re still not past it. What’s worse is that new viral infections and diseases continue to emerge and there seems to be no respite whatsoever.

The increasing number of monkeypox and the latest tomato flu cases have added more fuel to the fire, sending chaotic waves across countries and making it difficult for people to go about their day to day activities. Also, there is a growing sense of concern regarding the resemblance between many of the
symptoms of both monkeypox and the tomato flu.

Having said that, this article will help you differentiate between the two. Let’s start with what monkeypox and tomato flu are.

02/7What is monkeypox vs. tomato flu?

Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. According to the Mayo Clinic, it usually affects rodents, such as rats or mice, or nonhuman primates, such as monkeys. However, it can also occur in people. Prior to the 2022 outbreak, the monkeypox infection has been reported in people in several central and western African countries, as per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On the other hand, tomato flu or tomato fever, also known as the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), is a rare disease characterised by rashes and blisters all over the body. It has nothing to do with the vegetable tomatoes, however, gets its name from the red blisters that look akin to tomatoes.

03/7Differences in symptoms

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus and can last 2-4 weeks. As per the CDC, some of the common symptoms include: fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and backache, headache, respiratory symptoms and rashes.

Tomato flu may also cause symptoms such as fever, joint pain and swelling, body ache, and fatigue, which can also be followed by rashes. However, currently, tomato flu seems to be prevalent among kids and there is no known cause of the disease.

04/7How to tell monkeypox rash apart from tomato flu rash?

As far as monkeypox rash is concerned, it goes through several stages, including scabs, before healing. It can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy and may develop 1-4 days after the onset of flu-like symptoms.

Tomato flu is known by the red blisters that look like tomatoes. Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, IMA member in Kochi told India Today, “The illness is commonly caused by the Coxsackie virus which results in small 4-6 mm red spots on the skin that later become bubbles with fluid inside. The skin lesions can appear on the hands, feet and buttocks. It spreads by contact between young children and is self-limiting, requiring only supportive treatment. It has no connection with tomatoes.”

05/7Tomato flu prevalent amongst kids

According to reports, tomato flu has so far been detected in 82 children aged under five in the state of Kerala, where the first case was detected on May 6.

Given the rising number of cases, the Uttar Pradesh government has issued an advisory on tomato flu.

“The best thing for prevention is maintaining proper hygiene and sanitisation of the surroundings. Parents should tell their children not to hug or touch other children having fever or rash symptoms,” reads the advisory.

Additionally, it has been specified that the tomato flu has symptoms similar to other viral infections (fever, fatigue, body ache, and rashes), but is not related to SARS-CoV2, monkeypox, dengue or chikungunya.

06/7Who is at a greater risk of monkeypox?

Monkeypox infection can affect anyone. However, those who come in close contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox, who share clothes, sheets, blankets or other materials that have been in contact with an infected animal or person or people who engage in sexual activities including hugging, kissing or having sexual intercourse with a person with monkeypox, may be at a greater risk of contracting the disease.

07/7Treatment of monkeypox vs. tomato flu

Experts believe both monkeypox and tomato flu are not life-threatening conditions and the symptoms can be managed at home, under isolation.

For monkeypox, the duration of recovery and healing may take from 2 to 4 weeks. 

In case of tomato flu, the treatment is similar to that of other viral infections, which involves isolating on time, drinking plenty of fluids, eating healthy and taking medications as prescribed by the doctors. 

As per the health advisory, “Supportive therapy of paracetamol for fever and body ache and other symptomatic treatments are required.” 

However, it is important that each one of us prioritizes prevention. Maintain good hygiene, keep the surrounding clean and stay away from anyone showing symptoms.