A severe flu season is targeting the 2018 Super Bowl, causing fans and even NFL players to come down with the dreaded virus.
ESPN reported that several starters for the Philadelphia Eagles—Tim Jernigan, Mychal Kendricks, and Ronald Darby—missed practice last week because they came down with the flu.
“I’m getting over it right now. It’s like a cold, dude. I don’t know. The whole team has it, though,” said linebacker Mychal Kendricks, clarifying that he did not mean to say that every team member had the illness. “I don’t think it had anything to do with us being out here. I think it started sometime last week. Something we’ve got to get through. We’ll be fine. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Fans, especially those traveling to the Super Bowl or congregating in Boston or Philadelphia, are also at increased risk of getting the flu.
A 2016 study from Tulane University researchers found an 18 percent increase in deaths from influenza of people aged 65 and older following the big game in cities where the local team is one of the two teams facing off in the Super Bowl.
The study noted that the increase in flu deaths occurred because people were more likely to travel or congregate in large spaces to cheer on the home team.
Despite the especially virulent flu season, event organizers at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis are taking extra precautions to ward off the virus for the estimated 65,000 fans expected to descend upon the stadium Sunday.
KSTP reported that workers at the Super Bowl Experience have been directed to disinfect the exhibits multiple times each day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday that this year’s flu season is showing no signs of slowing down and has been increasing in intensity as of last week.
This year’s flu season is considered to be the worst in nearly a decade, as one out of every 14 patients who visited doctors went for flu symptoms.
The last time the flu season was this severe was when the swine flu pandemic of 2009 spread across America.