Super Bowl fans could be tackled by the flu

Trying to prevent the flu from spreading ahead of Super Bowl weekend CBS NEWS

Before the Patriots take on the Eagles, one million people are expected to attend Super Bowl related events in Minneapolis on Sunday. So organizers are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of flu.

Across the NFL experience, workers are busy disinfecting and wiping down equipment multiple times a day.

“I’m not a person to live in fear, so we decided to come. But I have two older kids and I told them wash your hands and you know, don’t touch things and have hand sanitizer,” said one fan.

“Meanwhile, he’s touching everything,” she added, as her baby went to grab our microphone.

John Hanlin, a public health researcher who works for Ecolab, a hygiene technology company, says his team was hired by the majority of hotels and restaurants six months ago to ensure visitors stay healthy. But fans aren’t the only ones at risk. New England Patriot Malcom Butler was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms this week.

Meanwhile, fans from the teams’ home cities, Boston and Philadelphia, can carry the virus back home. Researchers have found an 18 percent increased risk of flu-related death for people over 64 in those cities after the Super Bowl.

Epidemiologist Mike Osterholm says fans are upping their odds of contracting the flu if they go to the game.

“Think of influenza almost like a lottery,” he said. “If a normal day you’d only come in contact with 10 people that’s one chance, 100 or a thousand you just upped your chances that much more.”

The Super Bowl isn’t just about the 65,000 people attending the game. There are events in downtown Minneapolis happening every day of the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Then factor in airline travel and the chances of getting the flu just go up.

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