Possibly the last thing on your mind is whether your immunisations are up to date. But you are going to be in close proximity to thousands of people, especially if you are planning on spending any time in a mosh pit or dance tent. There are vaccines available for measles and the most common types of meningitis, two serious infections which we know have been transmitted at festivals.
If you are have not had at least two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine you are not protected against measles, so seek advice from your GP before setting off for the festival.
For protection against four different types (A, C, W and Y) of meningococcal infection, it is important to have one dose of MenACWY before you reach 19 years of age. This immunization was introduced in the UK in 2015, replacing the meningitis C vaccine and most teenagers were offered to catch up injections if they were not in the right age groups at the time it was introduced. Again if you have not had it, please seek advice from your GP surgery.
If you are unlucky enough to catch an infectious disease while at a festival, the signs and symptoms may not appear until you are back home. Again it is very important to seek prompt medical advice if you feel unwell and particularly if you develop any kind of a rash!
Tick Bites & Lyme Disease.
Most UK festivals take place in fields or on farmland. Even Reading which is walking distance from the heart of the city takes place on a farm. And where there is farmland and animals, there are also likely to be ticks.
If you find a tick attached to your skin while you are at a festival, your best option is to go to one of the medical centres which are stocked with special instruments which remove the whole tick, including the head. If you try to remove it yourself using old fashioned methods such as a lit cigarette, there is every chance you will leave the head of the tick in your skin, which may then become infected.
Most tick bites are harmless, but each year between 2,000 and 3,000 people in the UK go on to develop a condition called Lyme Disease after being bitten by a tick. The longer the tick stays attached to your skin, the more likely you are to develop Lyme Disease if the tick is carrying the infection.
Symptoms don’t appear until between 3 days to a month after being bitten and may include a circular rash where the bite occurred, feeling a bit ‘flu-ey’ with joint pains, chills and tiredness. Untreated infections can become much more serious, so if you get symptoms like these after a bite, it is important to see your doctor and mention the tick. They can prescribe a course of antibiotics, and again it is important to complete the whole course; don’t stop taking them when you start feeling better!
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