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Kerala tomato flu cases 'same as' HFMD, severity unlikely: Expert

State had reported 82 cases of tomato flu among young children till July 26

Kerala | Flu | disease

Shine Jacob  |  Chennai 

Skin irritation is one of the symptoms of Tomato Flu.  Source: Healthline
Skin irritation is one of the symptoms of Tomato Flu. Source: Healthline

Kollam district in southern has this year reported 1,300 cases of hand foot and mouth disease, prompting at experts to say tomato or fever is "same as" HFMD.

Kollam recorded its first case of tomato flu, a contagious viral so called because of the painful red blisters it produces on the body, on May 6—around the time was battling an outbreak of HFMD, a contagious viral infection common in young children. A central government advisory to states last week said that between May 6 and July 26, recorded 82 cases of tomato among children younger than five. Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Haryana have reported cases too.

“It [tomato flu] is the same as HFMD. This year, we are seeing a large number of cases getting reported. One good thing is severity and complications are less in the case of HFMD. Hardly any cases are admitted to hospital,” said Dr Fazal Nabi, a consultant pediatrician at Global Hospital at Parel in Mumbai.

Nabi said there were fewer cases of diseases like HFMD for the last two years when pollution and public activity had reduced. “Now, we are seeing schools working in full swing, group activities picking up and traffic also on a rise. This has led to the spread of such diseases as well. Tomato Fever is like any other normal viral flu, with no complications attached to it,” Nabi said.

The term 'tomato flu' is not officially confirmed as health officials in Kerala tracks its spread. “We don’t have an official entry as tomato fever. It comes from the Kawasaki virus group. Between May to July, we have seen as many as 1,300 cases of HFMD, which was provisionally diagnosed by doctors in the district,” said a senior health ministry official in Kollam district.

Tomato flu’s symptoms include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, dehydration, rashes and pain in joints. The mostly affects among children below ten years of age.

Blisters appear on body parts (the tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks, palms and soles) only after the first two days of the fever. “Since it is airborne, it is very difficult to detect the virus. Among adults, this is found much less and in some cases may not be even symptomatic,” said the official in Kollam. Various states have advised the public that tomato can be avoided through proper hygiene and sanitisation.

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First Published: Mon, August 29 2022. 14:37 IST