In a survey of more than 100 executives in the United States by Deloitte & Touche, released this January, two-thirds said their companies had not yet prepared adequately for avian flu, and most had no one specifically in charge of such a plan.
"Business is not prepared for even a moderate avian flu epidemic," the report concluded.
In contrast, corporations in Southeast Asia have made more headway, in part because the avian influenza virus has been circulating in birds in Asia for years. Also, Asian companies learned in the 2003 outbreak of Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, that even a small infectious outbreak could have devastating consequences, bringing commerce in Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing to a near standstill.
A recent survey of 80 corporate officials at an avian flu seminar held by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong found that nearly every company had someone in charge of avian flu policy, and 60 percent had clearly stated plans that could be put in place immediately. These included provisions for employees to work at home to prevent the spread of disease in the office, and for relaying warnings to workers by text messages to mobile phones.
Read the full story in the New York Times.