The Business Journal of Phoenix - 12:16 PM MST Wednesday
The Business Journal
Gov. Janet Napolitano urged businesses Wednesday to get ready for a possible bird flu pandemic in the U.S.
A severe strain of the avian flu has resulted in human cases of the virus in southeast Asia and the Middle East, including Iraq and Turkey, according to the World Heath OrganizationThere have been cases of infected birds in India, France, Germany, Sweden and Italy and the expectation that infected migratory birds will bring the disease to the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere in the coming months. There have not been any bird flu cases in the U.S.
The current strain is not communicable between humans but there are fears the strain could mutate and become transmitted from person to person and result in a global pandemic.
If widespread, an outbreak in the U.S. could kill as many as two million persons and cost the economy $675 billion annually and trim economic growth by 5 percent, according to a Congressional Budget Office report last year.
The flu pandemic would also result in substantial employee absences and strain health care systems.
Napolitano encouraged businesses on Wednesday to visit a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Web site set up specifically for the possible flu outbreak -- www.avianflu.gov.
That site includes checklists for businesses, schools and other organizations to prepare for the bird flu. The checklists encourage businesses to formulate emergency pandemic plans, including establishing sick leave and flexible work schedules and identifying key personnel, suppliers and supplies that could be impacted by a flu outbreak.
The Arizona governor said the state government has been in discussions with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other states regarding the bird flu.