Health warning to festivalgoers

Glastonbury festival, 2010
Image caption Crowds create infection risks

Too much alcohol, drugs, and sex, coupled with poor hygiene, can be a health risk at festivals, an expert is warning.

Sunburn, heat stroke, sprains and other minor ailments make up most casualties at music events, says Dr Mark Salter of the Health Protection Agency.

But there are occasional reports of sexual health problems, heart attacks and chest complaints.

Avoiding doing anything to excess is the best way to stay healthy, he adds.

Dr Salter, a consultant in communicable disease control at the HPA's Health Protection Unit in the South West has been attending festivals, including Glastonbury, for 20 years, to offer health protection advice.

His "top tips" for surviving festivals include using condoms, drinking plenty of water from a safe source, wearing a hat and sunscreen, and washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet.

Dr Salter said: "Avoid doing anything to excess is the best way to protect your health if you are visiting a festival this year.

"My experience of providing health advice and assistance at festivals for over 20 years tells me that people generally end up being unwell due to the combination of too much alcohol, drugs, sex and less than ideal hygiene.

"It is inevitable when suddenly thousands of people crowd together at a rural site with no fixed toilet system or bathing facilities and lots of alcoholic drinks that some people will become unwell as the risk of infection increases.

"It is therefore essential to follow good hygiene practices and wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilets."

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