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Summer Festivals

Published: 2004/07/05

Suggestions from the National Center for Infectious Diseases

Hepatitis A at Jamband Concerts: Last year’s outbreak & how to remain healthy at concerts this year

In the spring and summer of 2003, an outbreak of hepatitis A occurred at various jamband concerts and festivals across the country. At least 28 concert-goers became infected with the virus that causes hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is an infectious disease that is usually spread from one person to another by putting something in your mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of an infected person. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, yellow eyes, and dark urine. Most people get completely better, but occasionally people can become severely ill.

Last summer’s cases most likely acquired the infection from others at outdoor concerts where sanitary conditions are sometimes poor and hand-washing facilities are often not available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would like to inform concert-goers of simple things you can do to protect your health at upcoming concerts and prevent becoming infected with hepatitis A.

What you can do:

Most important is hand-washing. Remember to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water each time after using the toilet, before eating, before handling any food, and before and after sex. If you plan to camp at a concert, consider bringing plenty of clean drinking water and enough water for hand-washing.

Portable toilet facilities and restrooms at concerts should be properly maintained. If toilets are malfunctioning, overflowing, or have visible stool in areas where you could easily come in contact with it (such as the door or walls), inform the concert promoters that the toilets need to be serviced or cleaned.

It is important to recognize that foods, beverages, and drugs can be contaminated with the hepatitis A virus. Avoid any of these items that may have been prepared under unsanitary conditions or could have been handled by an infected person. People with hepatitis A are most infectious before they develop any symptoms so just because someone doesn’t look ill doesn’t mean they aren’t infected.

Licensed food vendors at concerts are subject to inspections by health sanitarians but concert-goers selling food or beverage items in campsites or parking lots are not. The safety of food or beverage items purchased from unlicensed vendors is uncertain.

A safe vaccine against hepatitis A is available. If you travel to foreign countries where hepatitis A is common or think you may have other reasons to be vaccinated, talk to your health care provider. If you have recently come in contact with someone who is sick with hepatitis A, inform your health care provider immediately.

For more information about hepatitis A, visit the CDC hepatitis website. Have fun at concerts this summer and stay healthy!

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