14 December 2004

People Risk: Avian Flu

The Gartner Group has determined that their clients need to prepare for the upcoming Avian Flu pandemic that is being discussed among the World Health Organization (WHO)as a possibility.

On 13 December 2004, health leaders from around the world met in Geneva to discuss the potential threat posed by the predicted future mutation of avian influenza into a highly contagious and virulent form that could quickly pass from person to person. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that avian flu variant H5N1 ("bird flu") could combine with an influenza strain already contagious in humans to cause a pandemic that might kill millions of people. H5N1 has been found in poultry in 11 Asian countries. Attempts to eradicate the disease have not succeeded, despite the destruction of 100 million birds. To date, 44 human cases of avian influenza have been reported, all in Thailand and Vietnam. Most of the victims had direct contact with birds; 32 of the victims died.

The difference with this virus and the digital type is that this one can take out key personnel and requires a whole different contingency planning mindset.


* Use scenario planning to understand and prepare for the possible impact on your business.
* Make your workforce aware of the avian flu threat and the steps you are taking to prepare for it.
* Assess your business continuity preparedness and try to improve it.
* Assign someone in your business to track biological threats such as avian flu. He or she should regularly review business continuity plans and update them in response to new information.
* Establish or expand policies and tools that enable employees to work from home, with broadband access, appropriate security and network access to applications.
* Expand online transaction and self-service options for customers and partners.
* Work with customers and partners to minimize disruption by developing coordinated crisis response capabilities.

While these are great recommendation from Gartner, I think most savvy contingency planners might have a big yawn reading these over.

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