Tomato Fever Grips Kerala as Over 80 Kids Fall Sick, K’taka Sounds Alert. A Look at Symptoms, Cause & Treatment

A new flu targeting young children has left parents anxious after Kerala reported over 80 cases of Tomato Fever — also called Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease — a mysterious viral flu that has symptoms similar to Chikungunya. The flu, which gets its name because of the red blisters it causes, has put authorities on alert in Coimbatore too, with a team of officials deployed at the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border screening people coming from the neighbouring state. Karnataka has also stepped up vigil, with health officials maintaining a log of OPD services.

As states step up vigil, News18 explains what the fever means, symptoms to watch out for and treatment available.

What is tomato fever?

The flu, which affects children below five years of age, is often called an undiagnosed fever. Rashes, red blisters, skin irritation and dehydration are common in children affected by the flu.

What are the symptoms?

Apart from blisters, the flu can also cause tiredness, joint pain, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, high fever, and body ache. In some cases, it may also change the colour of the legs and the hands.

Is it contagious?

Like every other flue, Tomato Fever is also contagious and the only way to stop the spread is keep the affected child in isolation. It is essential to prevent children from scratching the blisters caused by the flu. Proper rest and hygiene is also advised. Utensils, clothes and other items used by the infected persons must be sanitised to prevent the flu from spreading.

What is the treatment available?

Tomato Fever is a self-limiting flu, which means the symptoms resolve over time on their own if proper supportive care is provided. The most crucial aspect is to keep the child hydrated and be in regular touch with a doctor about change in symptoms, if any.

What has Kerala said?

According to a statement from Kerala Health Minister Veena George, care should be taken so that the disease doesn’t spread to other children. HFMD is highly contagious and spreads by direct contact with saliva, mucus, excreta, and fluid from blisters.

George said there was no need to panic but awareness was needed to spot the disease at an early stage and avoid complications.

What about Tamil Nadu?

A team of revenue, health and police officials have been deployed at the Walayar checkpost located on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border to screen people coming from the neighbouring state.

With the flu largely affecting children, authorities are also screening anganwadi centres across the district and close to 24 mobile teams with health officers have been deployed to carry out the process.

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