Swine flu: watching for signs of H1N1 havoc

For security professionals in charge of pandemic planning, swine flu cases unfolding in the lands down under may offer clues into what the rest of the world is in for this fall and winter.

At companies in the North America, Europe and northern Asia, swine flu may be the last thing on the minds of those in charge of security, pandemic planning and disaster preparedness. After all, it's summer and flu season is still months away.

But in the lands down under, where it IS currently flu season, health officials are nervously watching swine flu cases for signs of mutation and a sneak peak at what the rest of the world might be in for this fall and winter. Security professionals in the private sector should be doing the same and planning accordingly.

According to one swine flu report on the GlobalPost website, cases of the virus are exploding in Argentina, and its health minister has declared the country to be the most afflicted in the region, if not the world. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) cites Argentina as the place where the most serious illness is happening. "With 137 official H1N1 deaths, the outbreak in Argentina has been the second deadliest of the pandemic, second only to the United States," the report said. "All of those deaths were registered in the past month, almost a third of them just this past weekend. With the flu up north slowed by the summer but just moving into full swing down here, Argentina may very soon have lost more people to the disease than any country on earth. About half of Argentina's H1N1 deaths have been in and around the capital, Buenos Aires."

There are a lot of variables to chew on here. One could argue that the Argentine government has been slow and sloppy in its swine flu response, upping the death toll. It could also be that the quality of health is poorer in some parts of the country than others, and that more people have pre-existing conditions that make them particularly susceptible to H1N1.

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