Super Bowl Team Cities See More Flu Deaths
Planning to attend a Super Bowl party in Boston or Seattle this Sunday? If so, you might think twice about sticking your chips in the communal dip. Because such dippy activity is cited in a new study that finds that cities with a team in the Super Bowl go on to experience a spike in deaths from influenza. The findings are described in an article by researchers at Tulane University and the College of William and Mary. [Charles Stoecker, Nicholas J. Sanders and Alan Barreca, Success Is Something to Sneeze At: Influenza Mortality in Regions that Send Teams to the Super Bowl]
Football is a contact sport, and watching the game is lousy with contact, too. On Super Bowl Sunday, fans gather close together on couches and barstools to cheer for their teams. But the contest takes place at the height of flu season, which made researchers wonder whether spectators in close quarters might be sharing more than nachos and wings.
So the investigators looked at mortality data from 1974 through 2009. And they found that sending a team to the Super Bowl caused an 18 percent increase in flu deaths among those over 65 in the two towns. The senior citizens don’t even have to watch the game to be at increased risk—they could catch the virus from someone else who picked it up at a party or the pub. And the death toll is higher in years when the flu is more severe, like this season.
So when you watch, also wash…your hands, frequently. That way, when your favorite wideout makes a big catch, you won’t catch something, too.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]