Fans attending the 2018 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots are at a higher risk of getting the flu

By Julie Mazziotta
February 01, 2018 04:48 PM


The linesmen and tight ends throwing themselves at each other on the field aren’t the only ones at danger in the upcoming Super Bowl this year — with the deadliest outbreak of the flu since 2009 making its way around the country, the tightly-packed fans in the stadium are at a heightened risk of contracting the infection.

Organizers at Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium, the host site for the 2018 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, are taking steps to reduce the flu risk for the 1 million football fans expected to come to Minneapolis for Super Bowl-related activities over the week. Workers at Super Bowl Experience events, which are open to the public, are instructed to disinfect all of the exhibits multiple times a day, according to KSTP.

And as the 65,000 fans start filling U.S. Bank Stadium for the game on Sunday, the close quarters will make it easier for the flu to spread.

“Think of influenza almost like a lottery,” epidemiologist Mike Osterholm told CBS News. “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.”

Flu activity is currently at a “widespread” level in Minnesota, the highest possible. The CDC currently lists the 2017 to 2018 flu season as “moderately severe,” and warns it could get worse. Thirty children have succumbed to the virus across the nation so far, PEOPLE confirmed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine, which also limits the disease’s spread throughout the community.

The flu has even reached the Patriots. Cornerback Malcolm Butler was hospitalized Monday for flu-like symptoms, according to the Boston Herald. He’s now recovering and is expected to play on Sunday.