Hello from EHS Corporate Care.
Most of you have followed the reporting of the so-called Swine Flu outbreak with both interest and angst. Initial reports made this new strain of a mixed Influenza virus seem highly contagious and very deadly. Luckily, as the initial reports were evaluated and closer international monitoring was employed, the initial fears appeared over inflated.
This Swine flu is a new Influenza A strain that is a combination of human, bird and pig strains. It has proven not to have the virulence of past “pandemic” strains. This virus is sensitive to antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, which are readily available from pharmacies if needed. Although it is fairly contagious through aerosolized drops and contact to surfaces with the virus on it, the majority of cases have been mild and treated at home.
Useful resources about H1N1 and Influenza:
It is important to recall that seasonal influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Each year, in the United States, on average 36,000 people die from flu-related complications and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related causes. The best way to avoid illness and decrease spread is through typical hygiene (see avoiding the flu) and avoiding ill contacts. As a business, policies to promote hygiene among your employees and encourage staying out of the office while ill are valuable.
As an individual and an executive, staying current through the remainder of this season is still important. If you travel or do business around the globe, realize Influenza season is then “year round”. It will also be imperative to monitor this virus for further mutations as the 1919 Pandemic Influenza strain presented mildly at the end of the 1918 season and then changed to a more virulent strain the next season. It is recommended that all business, large and small, have a Pandemic Preparedness Plan in place (see Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist).
Yours in health-