International SOS is Tracking the H5N1 Virus - Are you prepared for a pandemic?

    Study conducted by International SOS reveals pandemic planning is
    critical to business continuity

    TORONTO, April 25 /CNW/ - The threat of the bird flu virus mutating into
a strain capable of causing a pandemic intensifies amidst a growing number of
outbreaks and human cases in different parts of the world. Since 2003, a total
of 168 people have died out of the 277 infected, according to the World Health
Organization (WHO). Over 30 countries have sent their public health officials
and scientists to the 4th International Bird Flu Summit, which ended on March
14 in Washington, DC, to design better strategies to prevent the spread of the
H5N1 virus.
    They agreed that pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery
are the key elements that should be incorporated into national strategic
measures against bird flu.

    International SOS recently surveyed approximately 300 North American
businesses about their state of preparedness and what plans they have for the
onset of a pandemic. The survey results revealed the following:

    -   More than 80 percent of businesses surveyed said that their
        organization considers pandemic preparedness critical or very
        important in relation to the continuity of operations if a pandemic

    -   Sixty five (65) percent of organizations are in the process of
        implementing a pandemic preparedness plan, compared to seven percent
        that have implemented plans completely.

    -   Thirteen (13) percent of businesses have begun pandemic preparedness
        training programs.

    -   (Twenty six) 26 percent of businesses are implementing work-from-home
        policies as an initial response to the onset of a pandemic.

    "The majority of North American businesses understand that they can no
longer delay preparations for a possible pandemic," said Dr. Myles Druckman,
Vice President of Medical Assistance for International SOS. "Implementing
pandemic preparedness plans is the first step. The next step for companies is
to train their employees on how to minimize the impact of a pandemic on their
business operations."
    "Despite significant medical advances that have occurred since 1917, very
little has changed in the clinical management of influenza," said Dr.
Druckman. "Preparation and surveillance are critical to an effective response
to a pandemic."
    "International SOS is armed with the most current information businesses
will need in the onset of a flu or pandemic and can act as a barometer for
companies, alerting them to an outbreak in a timely way," continued Dr.
    According to the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), an organization
that monitors bird migration patterns in Canada, the official start of the
spring bird migration was March 14, 2007. According to FLAP, with rising cases
of H5N1 in birds and in humans throughout the world, it is important for
Canadian businesses to be prepared. It's not a matter of whether, but when, a
pandemic will occur.
    The International SOS Pandemic Preparedness website was launched two
years ago with three levels of information. The public area of the website
contains valuable information regarding the outbreak of avian flu in Asia and
the potential impact should it become a pandemic.

    About International SOS Canada

    International SOS Canada is the premier provider of assistance services
nationally with a presence in six major cities including Toronto, Ottawa and
Calgary, serving over 70 percent of the oil and gas patch market.
International SOS Canada provides this service as part of International SOS,
the world's leading provider of medical assistance, international healthcare,
security services and outsourced customer care.
    With 4,500 professionals operating in over 65 countries, International
SOS helps organizations manage the health and safety risks facing their
travelers and global workforce.
    For more information, or to speak with Dr. Myles Druckman, please contact
Julia Stein at 416-645-3683 or via email at

For further information:

For further information: or to speak with Dr. Myles Druckman, please
contact Julia Stein at (416) 645-3683 or via email at

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