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Travel to Mass Gatherings

crowd of people

A mass gathering is when a large number of people come together in a particular location for a specific purpose. Mass gatherings can be festivals, religious observances, sporting events, concerts, or political rallies. Mass gatherings pose unique health risks because having large numbers of people in a small space can aid the spread of infectious diseases. Risk of injury is also increased in a crowd, and the local health care resources may not be able to meet the needs of large numbers of people.

Things to Consider

If you are planning to travel internationally to a mass gathering, consider the characteristics of the event and how they might contribute to health risks:

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  • Local diseases: visit the destination page for the country you are visiting to learn what diseases are a risk and how you can avoid them.
  • Climate: if you are traveling to a very hot or very cold climate, think about ways to reduce your risk for heat- or cold-related illnesses.
  • Crowd density: injuries are more likely where people are packed closely together.
  • Other crowd characteristics: age of the crowd, purpose of the gathering, and whether drugs or alcohol are used can influence the risk of violence.

What You Can Do

First, make an appointment with a travel medicine specialist, ideally at least 4–6 weeks before your trip. Your travel medicine specialist can provide any vaccines or medicines you will need for your trip. In addition, you can take other precautions to reduce your risk of illness and injury:

crowd of worshippers

  • Be up-to-date on routine immunizations, including a yearly flu shot.
  • Try to avoid the most crowded areas, or areas where there are not enough exits.
  • Always know where emergency exits and medical facilities are.
  • Be especially careful at gatherings where drug or alcohol use could promote violent behavior.
  • Avoid gatherings where political or religious fervor could promote violent behavior.

Knowing what risks you may face in the country you are visiting is essential. Country information is available on the CDC destination pages, which often include recommendations for specific events. Also visit the US Department of State travel website for information on safety and security in your destination and to register your trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.