Amid the panic caused by the outbreak of Tomato fever in Kerala, health experts have suggested that the flu/fever being reported is not Tomato flu, but it is typically caused by a virus variant of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). Dr Jacob John, a well-known virologist told the media that fever should not be termed Tomato flu, as it is a classic case of HFMD outbreak that has been reported in Kerala before. Also, Kerala State Nodal Officer Dr Amar S told the media that “In medicine, there is no such thing as ‘tomato fever’ and they are diagnosed as Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, which is a common viral infection.

Well, as fear continues to grow around Tomato fever or HFMD, read this article to know all about HFMD and precautionary measures to follow.
child with hand foot mouth disease

What Is HMFD?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common viral infection in children under 5 years old that results in sores called ulcers inside or around the mouth and a rashes or blisters on the hands, feet, legs or buttocks, in addition to high fever. The main cause of HFMD is the coxsackie virus A16, that belongs to a group of microbes termed as nonpolio enteroviruses. This virus typically enters the body by oral means, as children often touch several dirty objects both at home and outside, with their hand and feet and tend to put their hands in their mouth.

Though the infection is not very serious but is highly contagious and gets transmitted quickly in the exposed areas of the body.

Also Read: Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Symptoms Of HFMD

Some of the common symptoms of Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) include:

  • Fever
  • Poor appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Red blisters on the tongue, mouth and gums
  • Rashes on palms of hands and soles of feet
  • Sores on back and buttocks
  • Congestion in the nasal passage

Fever and sore throat are the first symptoms of HFMD, and blisters and rashes show up 1 or 2 days after the fever begins. The rashes look like flat red spots, which can be difficult to see on darker skin tones, so it’s best to evaluate the palms and bottom of feet where blisters are more visible. Most kids with HFMD will have painful sores in the mouth.

 If a child is exhibiting any of the mentioned symptoms of HFMD, then they must be taken to a doctor immediately and must be given plenty of water at regular intervals.

Causes Of HFMD

HFMD is caused by a strain of coxsackievirus A16. The coxsackievirus is a group of viruses called enteroviruses and these viruses can easily spread from person to person. The child may get HFMD through contact with a person:

  • Secretions, such as saliva, drool, or nasal mucus
  • Fluid from blisters
  • Faeces
  • Respiratory droplets after coughing or sneezing
  • Direct contact with soiled hands or a surface containing traces of the virus.

Also Read: Viral Fever: 5 Incredible Natural Herbs To Combat Viral Fever

Prevention Measures

Practising good personal hygiene is the first line of defense against HFMD. Some of the precautionary measures to be followed by children to lower the risk include:

Washing Hands:

Regular handwashing can significantly lessen the risk of getting this virus. Kids should be encouraged to wash their hands often using water and soap. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Washing hands after using the restroom, before eating and after visiting public places.

Clean And Disinfect:

Surfaces in close and frequent contact should be disinfected at regular intervals. It is also essential to disinfect toys, pacifiers, and other objects that may be contaminated with the virus.

Don’t Touch Eyes, Mouth Or Nose:

Children should not put their hands or other objects in or near their mouth.

Home Remedies For Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease

Try some of these home remedies to lessen irritation and pain

  • Sucking on ice chips or popsicles
  • Having ice cream or sherbet
  • Drinking cold beverages
  • Restricting citrus fruits, fruit drinks, and soda
  • Avoiding spicy or salty foods
Gargling warm salt water may also help to lessen the pain related with mouth blisters and throat sores