What do the flu and the Super Bowl have in common?

The worst place to be in flu season is in a Super Bowl city.

According to a Tulane University study published in the American Journal of Health Economics, cities with teams in the Super Bowl have seen a risen in flu deaths for much of the 30 years.

Seriously, the cities have seen an average of 18 percent of flu deaths among the elderly in the year of their athletic accomplishment.

“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,” Tulane’s Charles Stoecker said in EurekAlert! “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 don’t and so we get the influenza transmitted in novel ways that’s then going to eventually wind up in the lungs of a 65-year old.”

The statistics show an even greater issue when the dominant strain of the flu is most lethal and when the big game is closer to the peak of flu season, and the scientists say this year seems to be a mild one. So the people of Denver and Charlotte shouldn’t panic. But the flu kills thousands of people a year and makes hundreds of thousands sick, so they should be careful to not sneeze in their tailgate food.

By the way, there is no rise in flu deaths in the city where the Super Bowl is actually held.

So have fun this weekend, but be sure to wash your hands and tell your friends they shouldn’t double-dip.

Author placeholder image About the author:
Lilee Williams is a freelance journalist and scientific study junkie based in Georgia. Email her at
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