There's been enough talk of an influenza pandemic to makepreparation a hot topic with risk managers--even a featured sessionat this week's Public Risk Management Association annual conferencein Las Vegas. In fact, a potential widespread influenza pandemic isa public risk manager's worst nightmare. The implications areenormous, even devastating--yet it's also possible that a pandemicisn't in the cards at all (we hope). And so it's up to riskmanagers not only to prepare for the unthinkable but to do itwithout causing too much alarm.

It's also necessary to carry out these preparations now, in theearly stages, while thinking is clear and rational.

Whether or not the H5N1 virus, or bird flu, will reach pandemicproportions is open to debate. Some experts warn of direconsequences should the virus continue to jump from birds tohumans, or to other species such as pigs, dogs or horses.

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