The new disease is spreading in Asia.

An outbreak of a new viral infection referred to as tomato flu that was first detected in children in the southern Indian state of Kerala in May has spread to two other states.

According to an article in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 82 children aged under five had been diagnosed with the virus in Kerala as of 26 July.

Cases have now been reported in neighboring Tamil Nadu state and in Odisha in the east, where children as old as nine have been infected, even though the virus usually affects under-fives.

Scientists are still trying to identify exactly what this virus is. It has been referred to as tomato flu because of the painful red blisters it produces on the body, and it is very contagious. Children are particularly vulnerable because it spreads easily through close contact, such as via nappies, touching unclean surfaces or putting things in mouths. Read more here.

Tomato flu is thought to be an enterovirus

Tomato flu or tomato fever is characterized by fever, joint pain, and red, tomato-like rashes usually seen in children below the age of five years. This is accompanied by other symptoms of viral fevers such as diarrhea, dehydration, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue.

This was thought to be an aftereffect of dengue and chikungunya that is commonly seen in Kerala. However, researchers now believe that it is HFMD caused by enteroviruses like Coxsackievirus A-6 and A-16. Read more here.