‘Super Bowl Flu’? 🏈

How to balance call-outs and high levels of norovirus for the big game, plus more on the expanding Listeria recall

February 9, 2024

Health News:

  • The national dairy recall for Listeria has expanded to include salad kits, dressings, and more from national retailers, including Costco, HEB, and Trader Joe’s. (FDA) 
  • At least 8500 US schools have measles vaccination rates for kindergartners under the 95% threshold that’s crucial to prevent community outbreaks. (Yahoo)
  • Parasitic infections of toxoplasmosis in Westchester County, NY are linked to game dinners at an American Legion Post, health officials say. (CBS)
  • More than half of Californians skip or delay medical care due to cost. (Capital & Main)
  • CDC is reviewing protocols after a possible norovirus outbreak on another cruise ship, with 128 passengers and 25 crew reporting GI symptoms. (SF Chronicle)
  • The Ebola vaccine cut deaths in half during the DRC outbreak. (CIDRAP)
  • Vending machines in the UK are giving out free STI tests that might save lives. (Washington Post)
  • TB cases are on the rise, but public health agencies say they lack the resources to keep up. (Stateline)
  • Insomnia is common months after even mild COVID. (CIDRAP)

Mental Health & Substance Use News:

  • A new study found that higher-dose naloxone didn’t prevent any more overdose deaths than the current dosage. (AP)
  • Teens use drugs and alcohol to de-stress, and nearly half use them alone. (MMWR)
  • Student-led clubs have come to provide mental health support for their peers amid a dearth of resources at schools. (NY Times)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or need help, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. 

Best Questions:

What can we do to balance skepticism about Super Bowl Monday call-outs and high levels of norovirus right now? 

It’s particularly tricky when there’s a lot of illness going on during the most common days that people call out. Just over 16 million people said they would not show up for work next Monday, the day after the big game. Believe it or not, that number is actually down from last year by nearly 3 million. The good news is more than half (about 10 million) say they already requested the day off, but that still leaves about 6 million people who may call out at the last minute, many of them pretending to be sick. But at the same time, norovirus levels are very high right now nationwide, and Super Bowl parties may actually spread genuine illness, not just hangovers. We highly recommend staffing up enough for a higher-than-usual number of call outs on Monday. The ZHH clinical team asks explicit questions like “Are your symptoms due to hangover?” on Super Bowl Monday and other common days for calling out, and we do find that it can help differentiate between actual illness and those who are just struggling to get moving after a party. Transparent communication, like a manager asking employees directly if they plan to take time off after the game, can help with planning and reduce day-of call-outs. 

Source: Axios, UKG, CDC

I ate a product from the Listeria recall last week. What should I watch out for? 

Many of us may have consumed foods that are now included in the large-scale national food recall due to Listeria contamination. It included dairy products like yogurt, sour cream, and cheeses but has expanded to a wide range of prepared foods, including dips, prepared salads and meals, and taco kits from major national retailers like Costco, Trader Joe’s, and HEB. It’s concerning but not actually new - the first known case linked to this outbreak is from way back in 2014. In that decade, there are 26 known cases and 2 deaths, though it’s possible that the actual case number is much higher, and many have gone unreported. Symptoms usually start within two weeks but can start as early as the same day someone eats contaminated food. Mild symptoms can include fever, body aches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. If the illness progresses it can also cause more severe neurological symptoms. If you develop any of these symptoms, seek medical attention and mention that you ate a recalled product. Pregnant people, those over 65, and immunocompromised people are at higher risk. In general, the average person’s risk is low, so try not to worry too much, throw out any recalled food you still have in your fridge, and call your doctor if symptoms develop.

Source: FDA

Best Read:

Rampant COVID Poses New Challenges in the Fifth Year of the Pandemic | Scientific American