What Pandemic Influenza Could Mean to Your Business

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) estimates:

Impact on business:

You Can Take Steps Now to Prepare Yourself, Your Business, and Your Employees

This easy to use, practical, pandemic planning tool kit for business/employers was developed by a Pandemic Influenza Task Force led by the International Centre on Infectious Diseases (ICID) in partnership with the Manitoba Public Health Association (MPHA). Task force members came from an array of backgrounds, including businesses and business organizations, labour, government health agencies, hospitality, the transportation sector and the workers compensation system.

The tool kit has been designed to assist all sizes and types of business in preparing for pandemic influenza. It includes:

Preparing for pandemic influenza will enhance business readiness to address other public health emergencies.

Unique Challenges

Pandemic influenza presents unique challenges for business planning because it is a people vs. an equipment or process issue. It may be pervasive, profound and prolonged. We also don't know when it will occur, or the severity of the stain of virus that could emerge to cause it.

It is thought that it will spread rapidly from person to person; move quickly (over a number of weeks) around the globe; circulate in successive, potentially increasingly severe waves of about 6-8 wks duration, 3-9 months apart over the course of 1-2 years; affect all age groups; and have serious economic costs and a disruptive effect on society as a whole.

Different from Seasonal Influenza

 Seasonal influenza  Pandemic influenza
 A disease caused by influenza viruses carried and spread among humans  A new strain of influenza virus that spreads quickly worldwide. It is carried and spread among humans; and humans have little or no immunity against it
 Affects 5-20% of the population  Expected to affect 25-50% of the population
 ½ -1 million deaths globally
4000 annually in Canada
 Potentially 40 m. deaths worldwide
11,000-58,000 deaths in Canada
 Most people recover within a week or two  Usually associated with a higher severity of illness, consequently a higher risk of death
 Deaths generally confined to at risk groups  All age groups at risk for infection
 Vaccine effective because the virus strain in circulation each winter can be fairly reliably predicted  A vaccine will not be available at the start of a pandemic. New strains must be accurately identified and production of effective vaccine could take 4-6 months
Antiviral drugs available for those most at risk of becoming seriously ill.  Antiviral drugs may be in limited supply and their effectiveness will only be known once the pandemic is underway

How Pandemic Influenza is Spread

The influenza virus spreads through droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air by someone who has the flu. You can get the flu by breathing in these droplets through your nose or mouth, or by the droplets landing directly on your eyes. You can also contract the virus by shaking hands with infected people or by touching contaminated surfaces then transferring the virus to your own eyes, nose, or mouth.

Symptoms of Influenza

Headache, chills, cough
Fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches, fatigue, runny nose sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation
Vomiting and diarrhea may occur, especially in children

What You Can Do