This year’s strain of the flu is the worst that has been seen in decades. The vaccines were less effective at prevention, and fatalities have become all-too commonplace. All of this is making public health officials nervous as thousands of Americans are about to gather for a sporting event that no one wants to miss, even if they have the flu.
“Super Bowl event organizers are taking extraordinary steps to minimize the risk of football fans getting this season’s deadly dominant flu strain by disinfecting the massive Super Bowl Experience exhibit at the Minneapolis Convention Center multiple times this week,” Fox writes, “and urging fans to get their flu shots.”
But it isn’t just the stadium that needs disinfecting. The Super Bowl is a reason to throw a good party. Chips and dips, finger foods, and Solo cups (which all look the same) are prime opportunities for contagions.
The state of Minnesota is expecting as many as 1 million people will participate in Super Bowl events. Many of those will come from other states, and they’ll bring their super bugs with them.
Official venues are doing their part. “Super Bowl Experience organizers say they’re doing everything they can to help reduce the risk of flu,” Fox adds. “Staff are wiping down all exhibits multiple times a day with sanitizing wipes, and volunteers with the United Way disinfect virtual reality equipment between each use at their Super Bowl Experience booth.”
In the 2014-2015 season, an estimated 34 million Americans came down with the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 710,00 were hospitalized. While most got better, 56,000 died.
“We’ll expect something around those numbers,” Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the CDC’s influenza division, said during a teleconference.
“There were 111 school-based outbreaks last week, compared to 72 the week before. Since more kids in schools come and go into the community, they carry the virus to more people than those who are in long-term care facilities,” Fox writes.
The flu is hard to avoid in crowded areas. Wash hands regularly. Keep from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. And know that the flu is airborne, so avoid enclosed spaces and large crowds.