Highly contagious ‘Tomato flu’ spreads to three states, govt issues advisory

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The Centre has issued an advisory to states on the Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), which is more commonly known as the Tomato Flu, reported Hindustan Times.

Till now, four states- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Odisha have reported cases of the Tomato Flu.

A report by Livemint said that more than 100 cases of the flu have been reported in the country in children below the age of nine. The Tomato Flu was first reported in the Kollam district of Kerala on 6 May and then spread to other areas of the state- Anchal, Aryankavu, and Neduvathur.

According to the Centre’s advisory on Tuesday, “The disease, which seems to be a variant of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), occurs mainly in children under 10 years of age, but it can occur in adults too.”

The advisory, as per the report, added that children must be educated about the signs and symptoms and side effects of Tomato flu.

It pointed out that although Tomato Flu shows symptoms similar to other viral infections such as fever, fatigue, body aches and rashes on the skin, it is not at all related to SARS-CoV-2, monkeypox, dengue and/or chikungunya.

“It seems, the disease is a clinical variant of the so-called hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) that is common in school-going children. Infants and young children are also prone to this infection through the use of nappies, touching unclean surfaces as well as putting things directly into the mouth,” the Centre’s advisory said, as per the report.

It also highlighted that isolation should be followed for five to seven days from the onset of any symptoms to prevent the spread of infection to other children or adults.

Listing out preventive measures, Tuesday’s advisory said people should avoid immediate contact with the infected person.

Parents should tell their children not to hug or touch other children having fever or rash symptoms, it added.

“You should encourage your children to stop thumb or finger sucking habits. Encourage the child to use a handkerchief in case of a runny nose or coughing.”

The advisory said that blisters should not be rubbed or scratched.

“Always use warm water to clean skin or for bathing the child. Take a nutrition-rich, balanced diet to boost immunity. It is essential to get enough rest and sleep to promote healing,” it added.

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