Mexican officials and international experts are studying an outbreak of of Swine Influenza that has emerged in Mexico and which is suspected of killing up to 60 in the past month.
International Experts for the World Health Organisation and the US Centre for Disease Control are suggesting the outbreak in Mexico may be connected to a further 8 cases in the USA. It is suspected the virus may also have infect over 900 and the Mexican government has already moved closing public buildings and suspending public events to try and limit the spread of infection.
Following an increase in infection rates and what appears to be a change in the pattern in Egypt the World Health Organisation is backing more detailed investigation
In Egypt the World Health Organisation is backing further examination and investigation as the numbers contracting the disease rise and and the pattern of infection change. At first sight the changes appear to be good news with all of those infected in the country have survived pointing to a reduction in the virulence of the H5N1, but clinically this change could be bad news.
The guidance says sensible preparation now will make the difference between just ‘getting through’ a pandemic and maximising the number of lives that can be saved. There were three pandemics in the last century which caused public health emergencies and many experts believe another one is overdue.
It is, however, impossible to predict its timing. The BMA/RCGP guidance is intended as a practical guide for GPs and practice managers. It details how GP surgeries will be expected to adapt from their usual method of working and gives information and guidance on the following:
All organisations in the public and private should have created plans to curb the effects and mitigate the impact of the disruption caused by a Pandemic yet our study shows 73% do not have proper plans to protect the business or its employees.
This stark finding comes after the National Risk Register produced by the Cabinet Office highlighted the threat of a pandemic as the most serious threat to the UK. With over 90% of organisations not calculating the possible financial impact of a pandemic on their operations few realise how expensive it could be and falsely judge the risks to the organisations as being not relevant or unmanageable.
Russell Price of the Continuity Forum said “there is a sense of paralysis amongst businesses when it comes the pandemic planning, and such paralysis is exactly what they are exposing themselves to. As the economy slows, it is surprising and worrying to see so many willingly leaving themselves open to such serious financial risk. Even those who had developed plans confessed to a lack of confidence in over two thirds of respondents with many stating a lack of executive support as the main issue (75%).
When looking at how senior managers see the threat over 80% feel the threat as minimal yet this contrasts with experts from the Healthcare and Emergency management sectors who see the threat as real and very likely in the same proportion.
Of the business that claim they are prepared, over two thirds admit that their plans will not be complete for a t least a year and half that they have not tested them. Russell Price adds “The threat of a pandemic is real, yet our finding show that most businesses are ignoring the threat, often considering it to be vastly overhyped despite the evidence from the last century when the three pandemics killed many tens of millions.
Despite the advances of modern medicine it’ll months before a vaccine will be able to be produced and the fact is we need to be prepared” Preparation is vital and a range of simple measures from good hygiene and health practices, alterations to working practices and the use of Antivirals are key components in mitigating the effects.
Active analysis can be subdivided into three categories of possible threats/occurrences that could befall an organization. Dr. Ian Mitroff refers to the three categories as Natural Accidents, Normal Accidents and Abnormal Accidents. I have renamed them and to differentiate the three aspects of each. That is, the threat, the actual occurrence and the consequence of the occurrence.
“According to the quantitative measures we developed for assigning relative economic risk exposure to infectious disease outbreaks for countries in Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore are especially vulnerable to the initial economic shock waves that would ensue from a pandemic,” said James Newcomb, Managing Director and principal author of the bio-era report. “However, the secondary impacts on other countries, especially China, could have far-reaching impacts for economies around the world, including the US,” he added.
At the time of this writing H5N1, known as Avian Flu, is spreading throughout Asia with one of the highest mortality rates of any flu virus of the previous century. Even the Influenza (Spanish Flu) of 1918 did not have as high a morbidity and mortality rate as H5N1 (Avian Flu). We are seeing almost daily some revelation from the World Health Organization (WHO) or Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the popular media.
The most obvious commercial victim of bird flu - imagined or real - is the multi-million pound poultry industry, which includes egg producers and broiler breeders, as well as those bringing the poultry to market; ranging from supermarkets to restaurants.
For the moment, this sector's most immediate concern is that talk of a possible pandemic will spook consumers.
Business leaders, like everyone else, are being bombarded with news about the risk of a human bird flu pandemic. Executives should consider now what, if anything, they need to do to prepare against this threat.
Decisions must be based on a sober evaluation of the risks. According to most experts, the probability of a human pandemic this winter is small. So there is no cause for panic.
However, many experts think such a pandemic is likely to occur one day. If it does, it could have disastrous consequences. It therefore makes sense to draw up contingency plans to deal with the worst-case scenario. These should be based on two key objectives: to take care of staff and to minimise disruption to the business and its revenues.
The Act splits local responders into two categories, imposing a different set of duties on each. Category 1 responders are those organisations at the core of emergency response (e.g. emergency services, local authorities, Primary Care Trusts), and are subject to the full range of civil protection duties.
Department of Health influenza pandemic business continuity planning assumptions
Based on previous pandemics and current internationally agreed arrangements co-ordinated by the WHO, UK Health Departments have agreed the following planning assumptions (further details in Chapter 4 of main Plan):
UK public health experts have unveiled their plans to deal with an Avian Flu Pandemic in the face of rising concern over this serious health threat in Asia.
The Government has also announced the purchase of over a million doses of vaccine, which to be used primarily for Key Workers. These steps coincide with increased reports and concern from the World Health Organisation concerning Avian Flu.