Grim diseases you can catch from festival toilets thanks to flying poo

With Glastonbury Festival getting underway this week, music fans will be facing the reality of having their home comforts taken away for the sake of a weekend of partying in mud.

One of the biggest comforts many will be missing is a decent toilet.

As if using festival bogs isn't grim enough, knowing you could potentially catch a number of diseases will surely turn the stomach.

Festival toilets could be described as a cesspit of diseases, and as the days go on their revolting nature and the risk increases.

So what diseases you could possibly pick up from portaloos and how could you reduce your risk?


Salmonella is a bacterial disease that affects the intestines, causing a range of symptoms from nausea to fever to bloody poo.

Salmonella is usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal faeces (poo) and is contagious.

Unfortunately, if a single person at the festival has a case of salmonella, there is a high likelihood of a spread.

One study found that salmonella “persisted in one toilet for four weeks after the diarrhoea had stopped, despite the use of cleaning fluids”.

It just proves how the disease lurks even after cleaning.


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Norovirus is highly contagious, and the infection can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.

Norovirus is similar to salmonella in that it spreads when you eat food contaminated with faecal matter.

Symptoms include runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis, fever and Koplik Spots – a type of raised ulcer – inside the cheeks.

A rash usually develops a few days after first symptoms.

It can appear as flat red or brown blotches beginning on the face and neck and spreading over the body.

According to Public Health England, tips to reduce norovirus at festivals include:

  • Washing your hands before eating and drinking and after going to the toilet
  • Washing your hands with liquid soap
  • Using paper towels to dry your hands and put them in a rubbish bin

Shigella infection

Shigella infection, or shigellosis, happens when a person eats food or water contaminated with a group of bacteria called "shigella", or come into direct contact with it through faecal matter.

It is so contagious that people can still carry it a week or two after it has gone away.

Symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramping, fever and nausea and it can last up to a week.

Public Health England consultant Dr David Kirrage said people need to practise good infection control.

"Effective hand washing is also helpful in controlling norovirus and flu, which are also in circulation at this time of year and which could account for some of the cases we are seeing," he said.

According to Festival Source, the best tips for dealing with the portaloos are:

  • Don't look down
  • Breath through your mouth
  • Hover if you can
  • Use toilet seat covers
  • Don’t use wet wipes
  • Bring your own toilet paper
  • Use easy access clothes

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