Outbreaks associated to large open air festivals, including music festivals, 1980 to 2012

I’ve been to my share of open-air music festivals or, as we called them, concerts, outside: The Who, Toronto, 1980; Rolling Stones, Buffalo, 1981; Grateful Dead, Toronto, 1987; Tragically Hip, Toronto, a few times; Jimmy Buffet, Toronto, a few times; Blue Rodeo, Guelph, 2000; Lyle Lovett, 2002, lyle.hairToronto, John Prine, Toronto, a few times, Jerry Reid, Barrie, 1986, Neil Young, Toronto, many times, and Neil Young, Brisbane, 2013, oops not, stuck in an airport, and many more I can’t remember.

Sometimes we got wet.

Researchers in Marseille, writing in Eurosurveillance, state that in the minds of many, large scale open air festivals have become associated with spring and summer, attracting many people, and in the case of music festivals, thousands of music fans. These festivals share the usual health risks
associated with large mass gatherings, including transmission of communicable diseases and risk of outbreaks. Large scale open air festivals have however specific characteristics, including outdoor settings, on-site housing and food supply and the generally young age of the participants. Outbreaks at large scale open air festivals have been caused by neil-acl_std.originalCryptosporium parvum, Campylobacter spp., Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, Shigella sonnei, Staphylococcus aureus, hepatitis A virus, influenza virus, measles virus, mumps virus and norovirus. Faecal-oral and respiratory transmissions of pathogens result from non-compliance with hygiene rules, inadequate sanitation and insufficient vaccination coverage. Sexual transmission of infectious diseases may also occur and is likely to be underestimated and underreported. Enhanced surveillance during and after festivals is essential. Preventive measures such as immunisations of participants and advice on-site and via social networks should be considered to reduce outbreaks at these large scale open air festivals.