According to a Tulane University study published in the American Journal of Health Economics, the number of deaths from contracting the flu rises in cities when they have a team in the Superbowl.
Apparently, gathering in a TV-lit room to share food and cheer on your team together offers a prime setting for germs to spread.
Charles Stoecker of Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, along with economists Alan Barreca of Tulane and Nicholas Sanders of Cornell University, analyzed county statistics from 1974-2009. They found that those towns with teams in the big game saw an 18 percent increase in flu deaths among those age 65 and older - the age group most vulnerable to dying from the flu.
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"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," Stoecker said in a release.
The same phenomenon isn't present among people living in cities hosting the Superbowl, since the game is usually held in warm climates where flu bugs don't thrive.
So how to host your Superbowl party and steer clear of spreading germs? Stoecker advises washing your hands frequently, getting your flu shot - and strictly enforcing the no-double-dipping rule.
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