It's important for companies to have a business continuity plan that accounts for the possibility of pandemics.

Flu outbreak sweeps across the nation, Boston declares health emergency

While the winter months are often associated with holidays and vacation time with family, they are also known for sniffly noses and an increased use of hand sanitizer. This season has an especially high amount of flu cases, according to multiple reports. Companies would be wise to ensure that they have thorough business continuity planning in place that accounts for employees being out on sick leave and/or working from home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's flu advisory report for December 30 through January 5 said that 24 states and New York City were reporting high levels of flu activity. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, told CNN that while those numbers are down 29 states from the previous week, the number of states reporting widespread activity increased to 47 from 40.

Massachusetts was hit especially hard, with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino declaring a public health emergency on Wednesday. In a city with a population of 600,000, so far 700 cases of influenza have been confirmed. This time last year, just 70 instances of the flu had been reported.  

"In the last two weeks alone we've doubled our number," Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission told CBS News. "So, if we continue at this rate to see new cases, we'll have an explosion of flu in the city of Boston. We really need to get ahead of it at this point in time."

It's crucial for companies to ensure that they have an up-to-date business continuity plan that accounts for pandemics. With a greater likelihood of employees missing work, either from being sick or caring for ailing family members, managers want to have comprehensive plans in place that will keep an organization running smoothly.