Tuesday, May 6, 2008

EMC-BC-COOP: Has pandemic arrived?

It may not, yet, be a pandemic, but we are facing the threat of one.

No, not the H5N1 avian influenza pandemic which has made headlines for several years (but not barely rates an ROP filler).


The childhood disease "eradicated" long ago - or so we thought.

Measles has reached (near) epidemic proportions around the world.

No country seems safe from measles. Developed countries such as the U.S. and Israel have it. "Non-developed" countries have it.

It spreads at the "speed of flight."

Thankfully, and unlike avian flu, measles rarely is fatal. (Avian flu has a fatality rate in excess of 50%.) It can be fatal, but not often.

When I was young, back in the Dark Ages before measles could be prevented, children, especially girls, often were deliberately exposed to the malady. Strange? Not really. Measles was a killer and deformer of fetuses. If a young girl contracted measles she developed an immunity to the illness for life. If, having been exposed as a child, she was again exposed as a pregnant adult, her fetus was protected.

Unlike the waiting-in-the-wings H5N1 avian influenza, we have a vaccine for measles.

But because it was "eradicated," we apparently stopped administering it.

Pretty much the same goes with smallpox vaccinations.

Which, to this scrivener - who bears the Mark of Vaccinations - seems foolish.

To be fair, there are those who contend the vaccinations are dangerous, and continuing studies of their safety certainly is in order. Perhaps the parents of my generation were ignorant of the dangers of some vaccinations. Even the medical community - my mother was a registered nurse who at one time worked at an ethical pharmaceutical - was in the dark.

Perhaps we are simply over-protecting. Let's say we allow people to contact measles. For most of us, it's an inconvenience. For a very few, measles may be life-threatening. Could these few be safely vaccinated? That may be a "Catch 22."

There is, of course, an enterprise risk management - business continuity angle to this.

People who get measles - or smallpox or chickenpox or mumps or any other "childhood" disease - can quickly infect coworkers. People who care for children or elderly relatives will take time off if those people become ill.

That impacts the organization's efficiency and, by extension, its "bottom line."

Reinstate preventive medicine for these "childhood illnesses?" If the answer is yes, and if the concern is the organization's financial bottom line, would it be good corporate policy to pay to vaccinate employees and "same household" relatives? Bring the inoculations to the troops or send the troops to the vaccine?

What about the people who refuse the preventive medicine option?

Enterprise risk management may not be rocket science, but it can get complicated and it demands input from many sources; in this instance, medical, legal, HR, finance, and, of course, the rank and file.

Something to consider.

Main Entry: pan•dem•ic
Function: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin pandemus, from Greek pandēmos of all the people, from pan- + dēmos people — more at demagogue Date: 1666
: occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population

Main Entry: ep•i•dem•ic
Function: adjective
Etymology: French épidémique, from Middle French, from epidemie, noun, epidemic, from Late Latin epidemia, from Greek epidēmia visit, epidemic, from epidēmos visiting, epidemic, from epi- + dēmos people — more at demagogue Date: 1603
1: affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time
2 a: excessively prevalent b: contagious 4
3: of, relating to, or constituting an epidemic

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/

John Glenn, MBCI, SRP
Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity
Planner @ JohnGlennMBCI.com

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