A new study published by a group of researchers from Tulane Univerisity, revealed that cities with teams playing in the Super Bowl game have a more vulnerable population to complications caused by flu.

According to the study published at the American Journal of Health Economics, having a team in the popular competition may result in the increase of the number of flu deaths among older adults, who are more vulnerable to serious complications from influenza. When the Super Bowl occurs close to the peak of the flu season the effects are greater.

Image: The Verge
Image: The Verge

Lead author Charles Stoecker of Tulane University School of Public Health along with economists Alan Barreca of Tulane University and Nicholas Sanders of Cornell University looked at county-level statistics from 1974 to 2009. The researchers found that having a team in the Super Bowl resulted in an 18 % increase in flu deaths among people over 65 years old.

“It’s people that are staying at home and hosting small local gatherings, so your Super Bowl party, that are actually passing influenza among themselves,” said Charles Stoecker. “Every year, we host these parties that we go to and it changes mixing patterns and you are coughing and sneezing and sharing chips and dip with people that you often do not and so we get the influenza transmitted in novel ways that is then going to eventually wind up in the lungs of a 65-year old,” he added.

Cities that are hosting the event did not show any increase in flu deaths, according to the study. This is because the game is traditionally held at places where weather is warm and the environment is less favourable for the virus.

Models show this year’s flu season could be a mild one, but the virus is still strong enough to sicken a big part of the population and kill a lot of people.

Stoecker recommends preventive measures like getting vaccinated and washing hands as the most effective ones, but if that isn’t enough, he suggests: A giant sign above the dip that says, “Scoop once.”

Source: Science 2.0