Penny Arcade comic on preventing con crud

Con Crud

Con crud is a universal bane for all conventions. Typically a cold, flu, or other non-threatening (but nonetheless quite annoying) illness which strikes during or immediately after the con, it can dampen the memory of an otherwise great convention.

Conventions are a prime place for disease to spread due to a number of factors:

  • Large number of people in a relatively confined space.
  • People from a wide variety of places, allowing the spread to those lacking regional immunity.
  • Lowered immune system response due to travel, stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption, or post con depression.
  • Lack of facilities or (more likely) time to properly wash hands regularly.

The most notorious case of con crud occurred at PAX Prime (now PAX West) in 2009 and garnered national headlines. At that convention there was an outbreak of H1N1 (aka swine flu). Around 100 cases were confirmed and the Centers for Disease Control tracked the outbreak from Seattle throughout the United States after PAX.

PAX Swine Flu Outbreak Soars to Nearly 100 Cases of ‘H1Nerd1’ –

A CDC tracked flu outbreak is not typical and you shouldn’t let con crud keep you away. Instead just take some easy precautions to keep yourself healthy so you can enjoy the con.

5-2-1 Rule

Each and every day at the convention you should get, at a minimum:

  • 5 hours of sleep
  • 2 meals
  • 1 shower

For best results, start this before the convention. Get as much sleep as you need the days leading up to your travel and eat a good, healthy diet to better prepare your body. At the con a meal can mean hamburger and fries (drink some water with that), but it doesn’t mean a power bar or five hour energy drink.

Hand Sanitizers

Bathrooms can be limited and spread out. Hand sanitizers work well on the go. At more and more conventions you’ll find hand sanitizing stations setup. If you’re not sure whether it will be provided you should bring your own. Get travel size bottles you can connect to your bag.

Drink Less, Play More

Significant amounts of alcohol lowers your immune response, plus you might forget to do your preventative measures. That’s not to say you shouldn’t drink, just take it easy if you need to be well the following week.

Take A Break

If you can, take an extra day off as a rest day following a weekend long convention.

What May Or May Not Help

Vitamins, zinc, and commercial anti-cold products may or may not help. There’s no good scientific evidence that any of them will boost your immune system and help keep you health. That being said they don’t hurt either, taken in moderation. Consult your doctor for details and what may be right for you, or just skip them altogether.