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Continuity of operations needs to account for pandemics

Seven people nationwide have died so far from an outbreak of fungal meningitis, caused by an injection of a steroid that was contaminated with a fungus.
Seven people nationwide have died so far from an outbreak of fungal meningitis, caused by an injection of a steroid that was contaminated with a fungus.

While an increase of technology has accounted for better medical care, such as vaccinations against once-lethal diseases, there is still a need for organizations to create a business continuity plan that accounts for pandemics.

According to CNN, seven people nationwide have died so far from an outbreak of fungal meningitis, and 64 total have become infected across nine states. Patients contracted the illness after receiving injections in the spine of a preservative-free steroid called methylprednisolone acetate that was contaminated by a fungus.

The New England Compounding Center (NECC) – the Massachusetts-based pharmacy that made the contaminated injections – voluntarily recalled three lots of the infected steroid last week.

In an interview with The Boston Globe, Dr. Benjamin Park of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), said that there's a possibility that the disease could exist in other products from the NECC.

"We don't know the scope of this but we do know there is a risk," Park said. "We expect to see additional cases as this investigation ­unfolds.’"

Health officials said that individuals who received injections from July 1 through September at one of the facilities in question should see their doctor immediately if symptoms begin to show.

The CDC said that fungal meningitis is very rare and, unlike viral and bacterial meningitis, it is not contagious. Symptoms of this type will appear similar to other forms but will appear more gradually and be very mild at first.

During an outbreak such as this – or an infectious disease such as pandemic flu – businesses and organizations need to be prepared that core operations can be performed either with limited staff or with individuals working from a remote location.

Business recovery may not be able to happen immediately. Hot sites may need to be initiated until a work area has been declared safe for individuals to return. When companies account for unexpected interruptions, they will be able to bounce back sooner and resume normal day-to-day operations.