Amid heightened global concern over the potential for an avian flu pandemic, iJET is advising travelers to Asia on precautions to take to avoid infection. iJET is also urging corporations to develop contingency plans in case of a pandemic.iJET initially addressed concerns surrounding a pandemic in two special reports issued by the firm early last year. The company also sponsored a Web-based seminar to help corporate clients identify universal and company-specific problems that might accompany a pandemic, and develop strategies to deal with each.
Public concerns regarding avian influenza reemerged last week following statements by experts attending an international conference on the disease. Officials with the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the avian flu virus is evolving quickly, and widespread, prolonged outbreaks are providing many opportunities for a pandemic virus to emerge. The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared that avian flu is the largest threat facing the world today. Many doctors believe that if a pandemic virus emerges, the disease will be more contagious than SARS, and more difficult to contain.
Nearly all human infections of avian flu have resulted from close contact with infected birds, raw poultry products, bird remains or bird feces. The avian influenza virus has not yet acquired characteristics necessary for efficient person-to-person transmission. Experts are warning, however, that the virus could change in a manner that would allow it to be more efficiently transmitted from birds to humans, and then from person to person.
Locations affected by the most recent bout of avian flu outbreaks include Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and possibly Laos and Myanmar. Although neither iJET nor the CDC are advising against travel to these regions, the CDC has issued a “Travel Health Precaution” for expatriates living in Asia and for people traveling to Vietnam, especially those who will visit friends and relatives.