Super Bowl 50 Could Tackle Local Community With Flu
Though influenza is always a health care concern, a recent study has found that a rise in cases may occur in areas that have an NFL team that advances to the Super Bowl. As the Denver Broncos prepare to take on the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, experts suggest taking extra precautions during Sundays social gatherings.
A recent study at Cornell University suggests that geographical areas that have an NFL team that advances to the Super Bowl have an 18 percent increase in flu-related deaths among individuals above the age of 65. Further, the results were more pronounced in years when the dominant influenza strain is more virulent, but also when the Super Bowl is held closer to the peak of the flu season.
As fans travel to watch the game live, or gather in social settings at bars and in homes, the risk for spreading germs increases. In conjunction with cold weather, people leave their homes to socialize and these groups may all be sharing the same food and drinks, which dramatically raises the risk for spreading the flu virus.
As the Super Bowl festivities approach and we get closer to the peak of influenza season, we realize the spread of germs becomes a very real threat, said Tammy Ahlers, director, quality resources, St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center. We advise people to focus on prevention by washing hands more frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding sharing food and drink, especially during Sundays game.
The study examined county-level data from 1974 to 2009, and illustrated the rates of influenza-related death in areas that had an NFL team in the Super Bowl versus the rates in places that also had football teams but did not reach the Super Bowl that year. The study, co-written by a pair of economists at Tulane University, appears in the winter 2016 issue of American Journal of Health Economics.
Simply being aware of the situation serves as a reminder for people to take common-sense precautions, and illustrates that germs are still being spread constantly, especially during the months with the most reported flu cases, Ahlers said.
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St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center, marketing & communications assistant