The current outbreak of influenza in the United States is the most widespread outbreak of the virus since the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-2010, insurer Zurich North America said Friday.
The company has released two “risk bulletins,” posted on its website, to help businesses keep employees healthy and minimize the impact on business continuity.
Read the bulletins here: Influenza Outbreak: What your business should be doing and Cleaning and disinfection plans during an influenza outbreak
On Friday afternoon, the flu reportedly reached an epidemic level in the U.S., with the virus widespread in nearly all states.
Canadian media also reported high numbers of flu-related emergency room visits across the country.
In the last two weeks of 2012 (the most recent information available), 127 new influenza outbreaks were reported, 87 of which were in long-term care facilities, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s FluWatch report.
A total of 4632 laboratory detections of influenza were reported, the agency said.
Among its recommendations for minimizing the impact of the flu, Zurich suggests the following:
• Develop a committee to review, plan and oversee your company's influenza outbreak response and how you will minimize the spread of communicable disease in the workplace.
• Identify critical processes and functions that must continue for your business to remain viable - Can some be automated or managed remotely or with fewer employees?
• Evaluate critical suppliers and customers and identify suppliers that provide critical raw materials, component parts or essential services and develop a contingency plan for how you would operate if they were not available. Also, consider that you may be a critical supplier to your customers. What do you need to do to meet their needs?
• Identify essential employees or expertise to find ways to protect critical employees through isolation, remote work or, if there is enough lead time, medical intervention, such as vaccination.