Travel to Mass Gatherings
Whether the event is planned years in advance (World Cup) or happens more spontaneously (street celebrations), events that draw huge crowds can come with unique risks to travelers including increasing the spread of infectious diseases.
What risks should I be worried about?
Mass gatherings involve a large number of people (sometimes in the millions) at a specific location, for a specific purpose, during a defined time frame.
Risks caused by crowding you should be aware of include:
- Poor hygiene at or around temporary food and sanitation facilities
- Challenging security situations
- Sun & heat exposure
- Diseases caused by bug bites (like malaria, dengue, Zika, chikungunya, Lyme, and yellow fever).
- Increased risk of preventable diseases due to an influx of people
What can I do to protect myself?Before your trip:
- Check your destination for health risks and safety concerns.
- Consult with your doctor or a travel medicine provider at least a month before your trip to allow time to receive vaccinations, medicines, and advice that you may need. Discuss your itinerary and any planned activities with your provider so that he or she can make customized recommendations to ensure a healthy and safe journey.
- Make sure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR). Measles and other infectious diseases can spread quickly in a large group of unvaccinated people.
- Enroll with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). You can subscribe to receive notifications on travel warnings for your destination. Enrolling also ensures that the Department of State knows where you are if you have serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties while traveling. In the event of an emergency at home, STEP can also help friends and family contact you.
- Pack a travel health kit complete with bug spray, sunscreen, aloe, over-the-counter medicines, prescription medicines, a first aid kit, and more. Be sure to bring enough of your prescription medicines to last for the whole trip, plus a little extra, just in case.
- Be sure that all your medicines are permitted in the country where you’re traveling, even if you’re just passing through.
During your trip:
- Don’t go to a mass gathering event if you are feeling sick
- Pay attention to your surroundings, and be aware of large crowds.
- If you are stuck in a crowd crush (sometimes called a stampede), keep your hands in front of your chest like a boxer and keep firm footing. Don’t resist the force of the crowd; when there is a lull in movement, work your way diagonally to the edge of the crowd. Try to stay on your feet, but if you fall down, protect yourself by curling into a ball. Stay calm and get up as soon as you can.
- In case of a fire, remember that heat and smoke rise; crouch down low to get oxygen.
- Locate emergency exits, and arrange a place to meet your family or traveling companions if you get separated.
- Wash your hands regularly (use hand sanitizer if handwashing facilities are not available).
- Avoid sun exposure, bug bites, and hot temperatures.
- Use sunscreen & bug spray while outdoors. Apply sunscreen first, let it dry, and then apply bug spray. Reapply as directed.
- Use personal umbrellas or hats to shade yourself from the sun, especially during the hottest parts of the day.
- Avoid being outdoors in the hottest times of the day. If you’re on Hajj or Umrah, perform rituals at night when possible to avoid the hottest temperatures of the day and during non-peak hours to avoid crowds.
- Choose only bottled water and foods served hot to avoid foodborne diseases.
- Stay hydrated; bring bottled water to take with you while at an event.
- If you feel sick, go to a doctor. If you feel sick at any time during your trip, find a nearby clinic here.
After your trip:
- If you feel sick after you return from your trip, visit a doctor or a travel medicine specialist immediately and make sure you tell them about your recent travel.
- Page created: April 21, 2013
- Page last updated: July 16, 2019
- Page last reviewed: July 16, 2019
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