Flu pandemics strike about every 40 to 50 years. The worst in modern times was the 1918/1919 Spanish Flu pandemic. Close to 675,000 people died in the United States in the fall and winter between those two years. That was compared to an estimated 50-million people who died around the world.
In 1957/58 a relatively small pandemic originated in the Far East and before it was over 69,800 people died in the U.S.
Here at the Institute for Crisis Management we began to advocate for organizations of all kinds and size to develop a pandemic plan. Historically 20-to-40-percent of the population can be infected and unable to work for days and weeks.
Four cases of a new strain of swine flu have been confirmed in recent days by Pennsylvania officials. And to compound the problem, since September of last year 162 dead or dying harbor seals have washed up along the New England coast. Animal health experts say they were suffering from a new type of influenza they caught from birds.
Migratory birds are almost always the source of transmission of pandemic flu viruses.
If you have a pandemic plan for your business or organization, dust it off and update it.
If you don’t have one, today is a good day to start working on one.
Just one example of the things you have to plan for: Say you are a municipal police department or sheriff’s department. It’s one thing to have 20-to-40-percent of your officers and staff out sick at the same time, but what about the source of the gasoline that fuels your patrol cars? If your supplier has a third of their delivery drivers out sick and can’t make timely deliveries of gasoline, do you have back-up bicycles or horses or can you cover your area on foot?