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Digging into the communal nacho platter at a Super Bowl party could give celebrants a bad case of eater’s remorse—in the form of influenza, especially among the hometown fans of the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. It’s no joke: A new study published in the American Journal of Health Economics reports that the death rate attributed to the flu was significantly higher in regions that Super Bowl teams came from between 1974 and 2009. Researchers attribute this phenomenon to the fact that the game occurs in the heart of flu season and brings even casual fans together in close proximity with each other; those whose regional team is playing are presumed to be more likely to watch the game in a social setting. Think about the people huddled around the TV, all eating and drinking together, and it starts to make sense. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that many areas of the country still have not hit their expected peak for flu activity, it continues to be important for urgent care providers to recommend flu vaccination for patients who haven’t had it yet, and to educate all patients about preventive measures such as handwashing. They should also start treatment with an appropriate neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral drug (ie, oral oseltamivir, inhaled zanamivir, or intravenous peramivir) as early as possible in patients with confirmed or suspected influenza who are hospitalized; have severe, complicated or progressive illness; or are at higher risk for influenza complications.

Be Prepared for Post Super Bowl Flu Spike—Especially in Colorado and North Carolina