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How do you avoid the biggest summer festival faux par?

29 May 2008 – for immediate release

As millions of us pack into the fields of Glastonbury, V Festival, Reading and Aston University’s own Astonbury festival this summer*, the chances of staying clean in a muddy field whilst sharing overused basic sanitation facilities, are slim to none.

However, Aston University’s resident bug buster and BBC Grime Scene Investigations star, Dr Anthony Hilton, is on hand with his top tips to make beating the beasties easier.

Anthony’s top tips for festival health:

1. Try to keen your hands clean; ideally using soap and running warm water. Even if warm water is not available, use cold – it is not quite as effective but still useful.

2. If soap and water is not available, take antibacterial washes/wipes or waterless sanitizer (usually alcohol-based gels) with you as they will kill most harmful bacteria on your hands. They are more effective if the hands aren’t caked in mud!

3. Be aware of your daily activities which may put you at increased risk- for example, when preparing / consuming food, after using the toilet and any activities which bring hand to mouth contact.

4. If the festival involves camping for a few days, be sensible about the types of food you take- tinned / dried foods which don’t require refrigeration are safest.

5. Be mindful of others – if you are feeling unwell take extra care with your hygiene as you can easily spread infection to others.

6. Be extra careful if the festival field mud is heavily contaminated with animal faeces (such as cattle) as this can be a source of infection.

For many keen campers the festival filth is all part of fun, however in cases such as the Shigella outbreak at a music festival in Michigan, USA**, and more recently the E. coli O157 incident at Glastonbury*** in 1999 there can be serious consequences.

ENDS

For more hints and tips and further information please contact Hannah Brookes on 0121 204 4549.

Notes to editors

Anthony is available for TV, radio, print interviews on request, publicity photos are also available.

*Astonbury is at Aston University on Saturday, 7th June. Separate press release is available. It is a music festival event organised by students for students and acts such as BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe will be performing.

**The Shigella outbreak at a music festival in Michigan, USA resulted in over 3,000 women being struck down with gastroenteritis. The most common symptoms of Shigella are diarrhea,fever,nausea,vomiting, stomach cramps, and straining to have a bowel movement. Worldwide, inadequate treatment of gastroenteritis kills five to eight million people per year.

**The Glastonbury incident occurred when seven people were infected with Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli O157 and an eighth person had serological evidence of infection. Cases were reported from different parts of England. Patients were interviewed by telephone about clinical symptoms, festival attendance, camping details, food history, water exposure, and contact with mud and animals. The interviews identified no common food source, differing use of water sources and widely dispersed camping sites. Escherichia coli O157 strains from seven persons and from a cow belonging to a herd that had previously grazed the site all belonged to phage type 2 and possessed genes for Vero cytotoxin 2. Drug resistance and DNA-based tests showed that six patients were infected with strains indistinguishable from each other and from the bovine isolate. The most likely vehicle of infection was mud contaminated with Escherichia coli O157 from infected cattle.

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