People attending the Coachella Music Festival this year are picking up much more than “good vibes” – they are also picking up herpes. According to the herpes tracking app “HerpAlert” there has been a massive outbreak of the sexually transmitted disease in California which is believed to be associated with the Coachella Music Festival.
HerpAlert is an app that allows users to self-report potential cases of the virus in return for access to doctors who can give them a full diagnosis and prescribe medicine. The app received at least 250 requests for medication per day during the Coachella music Festival, according to The Daily Wire. Most of these requests came from the area of the festival and surrounding towns were festival-goers stay during the event.
The spokesperson for the app told CBS that it typically receives no more than 12 cases per day from the same area. Use of the app costs a flat fee of $79.
“In all, 1,105 herpes cases were reported in the Coachella Valley area and in the nearby cities of Los Angeles and San Diego,” the New York Post reported. That number is a record for the App, blowing past the 60 inquiries received in L.A. during the Academy Awards back in February.
HerpAlert “patients fill out a series of questions about herpes symptoms for HerpAlert and provide a picture of a lesion or scar, which appears on the genitals or around the mouth. A physician then reviews the information, makes the diagnosis and can prescribe medication within hours,” the Orange County Register reported.
A HerpAlert spoksperson said people “came to the platform for a variety of reasons, including to get medication to treat and prevent flares, in addition to those who came to see if they had a new case of cold sores or herpes.”
Doctors in the area caution that although the app is showing increased number, in-person visits have not increased in the area. However, the anonymous nature of the app could make it a better tool for getting an accurate number on reports.
One doctor told Billboard:
“There were many coming to get medication to treat and prevent flares. We see it as people deciding to take proactive care of their health and the health of those they may interact with over the weekend. We do not have a number of diagnosed new cases, as sometimes we cannot determine via their history and photos, so we have to advise they see a provider in person.”
Coachella “is a perfect place for the herpes virus to pop up,” one public health official said. In addition to its 250,000 people routinely having sex with each other, participants also share things like makeup, cigarettes and drinks. Attendees also get more than the typical amount of sun exposure and less than the typical amount of sleep, making them more susceptible to illness.