SUMMARY: A study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found company affiliation to be the greatest driver of farm-to-farm avian flu transmission risk. Typical multiple-farm contacts included workers, feed distributors, waste handlers and social contacts. The researchers used the model to analyze how an outbreak of H5N1 at a single farm on the Delaware-Maryland peninsula might spread through the poultry farm-dense region.
STORY LINK: http://gazette.jhu.edu/2010/04/05/biz-affiliation-could-increase-risk-of-transmission-of-avian-flu/

ANALYSIS:
The cited study examined how disease spreads in a region with a concentration of poultry farms that are a major economic presence.  Incidents of avian flu are particularly damaging to this industry because practice is to destroy infected flocks.  While the specific focus of this study was chicken farms, the applicability to other businesses, communities, and families is significant.  Communicable disease is spread by various means:  person to person, by vectors such as fleas or mosquitoes, and environmentally.  Understanding the patterns of travel and interactions of your employees or family members can be a meaningful tool in limiting potential exposure.  When is it appropriate to limit movement or contact?  Conversely, needless restrictions can have an adverse impact on the ability to conduct business.  Too often, decisions are based on emotional reaction versus a sound analysis of the potential danger.  Opting too far in either direction can have dire consequences.  An accurate risk assessment is a core characteristic of a Culture of Preparedness.  Understanding exposure is the first step toward reducing risk.  Reducing risk builds resiliency, an attribute that will keep you in business when the unexpected occurs.

- Donald A. Donahue, DHEd, Executive Director, Center for Health Policy and Preparedness

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