Friday, August 28, 2009

Most Pandemic Prone Victims -- Young Adults

When you are planning your staffing options for this fall's pandemic return, there is growing evidence that the most likely employee group to get really sick and die are the 20-30-40 year-olds, not the older managers and workers.

In recent years, researchers looking back at past pandemics have discovered that people in their 20s, 30s and 40s got sicker and an unexpectedly higher percentage of that age group died. That is not consistent with the impact the normal seasonal flu has.

And recent research reaffirms that earlier conclusion.

In a study by the European Center for Disease Prevention’s Eurosurveillance, researchers studied 574 swine flu-related deaths occurring in 28 countries to mid-July.

"51 percent of those deaths occurred in the age group of 20-to-49 year-olds," the researchers reported. Overall, the study found that about six people of every 1,000 infected, die from the virus, which is about two to three times the rate of seasonal flu, yet still far below the rate of the 1918 pandemic, so far.

The report noted that just 12 percent of those who died from the virus up to mid-July were aged 60 or older.

The earlier research concluded that the immune systems of 20-to-40 year-olds were at their peak and when the pandemic virus attacked their lungs in 1918, the immune system went into over-drive. The virus-fighting system could not tell the difference between flu cells and lung cells and attacked both. Autopsies found that many people suffocated from their own disintegrating lung tissue.

If, and its still a big if, this is going to be a 1918-type pandemic, you must include in your business pandemic planning how you will cope with 20-to-40 percent of your young employees and managers out sick and up to 2-percent of that number never returning to work.

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