Did influenza kill Prince?

It looks like some reports are saying that our national hero and musical icon, Prince, might have died due to complications with flu. Apparently, he was hospitalized several days prior to his death to get treatment for a severe influenza infection. While seasonal flu kills thousands annually, it generally causes the greatest mortality in the very old and young. It’s not common for people to think that a 57 year old adult would succumb to a seasonal flu infection. That said, there are a number of confounding factors that can add to disease severity, including secondary bacterial infections, being immune-compromised, or a eliciting a hyperactive immune response (e.g. cytokine storm) that exacerbates the disease rather than clears it. It is also possible that the flu strain Prince caught experienced antigenic drift, which increased it pathogenicity. Only time will tell!

There are LOTS of conspiracy theories circulating, including ones suggesting that the flu vaccine actually caused his death (*headbangs desk*). Aretha Franklin suggested Zika infection.

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