How Should Businesses Prepare For an Avian Flu Outbreak?

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Avian Flu Preparation

Private businesses need to act sooner rather than later in preparing for a possible avian flu outbreak, says William Stanhope, associate director of the Institute for Biosecurity at Saint Louis University School of Public Health.

In his role at the Institute, Stanhope works with private industry to create simulation exercises for pandemic preparedness and has recently developed avian flu exercises for corporate clients.

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"Businesses need to develop contingency plans immediately that will allow, and encourage, their employees to work from home," he says. "They also have to have a good idea of how much of their workforce is made up of single parents, because when schools and day cares close, those single parents will have no choice but to stay home with their children."

Stanhope says private business and government need to stay in close communication before and during a potential crisis.

"What's most important is for disaster recovery specialists within companies to take a hard look at the national pandemic plan and form a corporate response. And it is absolutely essential for businesses, especially multinational corporations, to meet with their local and state health departments and begin a dialogue. Too often there is a disconnect between private business and public health departments, and we need to bridge that gap as soon as possible so we are prepared if and when the pandemic strikes."

The Saint Louis University Institute for Biosecurity was established in 2000 to provide public health and emergency response professionals with the education needed for preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation of emerging public health threats. Faculty and staff at the Institute conduct research that contributes to the development of national policies to address these threats.

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