Southern states of India have witnessed 82 children (under the age of 5) getting affected by the Tomato flu, with the state of Odisha going on high alert due to 26 children getting affected (source). This has led to the government jumping into action and issuing guidelines for the states. Amongst the uproar of the virus, it is advised not to panic as it is not life-threatening.
Nonetheless, prevention is better than cure. Here is all you need to know about Tomato flu in order to take necessary precautions to protect your family.
What is Tomato flu?
The virus has not yet been identified, however, it is considered to be a hand, foot, and mouth disease that causes blisters as large as a tomato. These are similar to normal blisters – red, painful, and filled with fluid.
It is said to be caused in children with lower immunity and can last up to a week. In rare cases, the disease becomes severe. It is advised to seek a doctor and get the patient treated clinically.
The disease shows the symptoms of dengue fever and chikungunya and can also be an aftereffect of the same, as per some sources.
How can this disease be identified?
The disease that seems to have been contained in India at the moment has multiple symptoms that can be identified easily and the treatment can be started for the patient while they are isolated for 5-7 days.
The most important fact to note is that this disease is communicable, thus, preventing coming in contact with the affected person or child is advised.
A common symptom of the disease is the occurrence of blisters on the body. Additionally, high fever, rashes, intense pain in the body & joints, fatigue, nausea, dehydration, diarrhea, ulcers in the mouth, stomach cramps, vomiting, cough, cold, body pain, and swelling of joints.
Treatment of Tomato Flu
"There is no characteristic symptom or sign which differentiates tomato flu from other forms of flu,” says Dr. Vaidehi.
When these symptoms are noticed, children are tested for other viruses with similar symptoms to rule them out and start the treatment of tomato flu. The treatment is similar to that for chikungunya, dengue, chicken pox, and other such viruses. The patient is isolated and given lots of fluids.
For the rash and irritation, a sponge can be dipped in hot water and applied to the affected area. The affected patient should avoid scratching or bursting the blisters.
The patient should be given a nutritious diet and their surroundings should be kept clean and sanitized. Proper rest is the best remedy in such situations.
No, avoiding tomatoes is not on the list. This is a common misconception that due to its name, tomato flu is spread by tomatoes. This is untrue.
Although coming in contact with an affected person can affect you as well, keeping yourself healthy and building immunity can either prevent intense symptoms or help you recover faster.
Nonetheless, there are ways that you can avoid this disease. Drink lots and lots of water and other fluids such as juices and coconut water. Keep distance from the affected individuals. Maintain hygiene and clean your living space.
In case a family member is affected, keep their surroundings clean and do not come in direct contact with their used items such as clothes and utensils. You can use gloves to avoid skin contact. You can even give them disposable utensils till the time they are recovering.
In case you notice blisters on the body, do not touch them and contact your doctor.
Spread of the disease in India
Presently, the disease is spreading in the southern parts of India. It started in Kerala and has affected the states of Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Karnataka. There is a possibility of this disease spreading to the neighboring states too.
Children, as well as adults, are affected by the virus; therefore the Government of India has advised people to keep a distance and follow proper hygienic measures even outside the house.
First the pandemic, then the country was living under the threat of monkeypox, and now the tomato flu. It is undoubtedly a difficult situation for parents. Our advice is to keep your calm and educate your kids. The pandemic has taught us to use face masks and sanitize our hands and surroundings; following these measures can keep us safe from other diseases as well.