On July 21, 2006, the New York Times reported that Indonesia is surpassing Vietnam as the country hardest hit by avian flu. The flu, also known as H5N1 flu, killed more than a million birds in Indonesia between January and March 2006, reports the Times, increasing the likelihood of an outbreak of human cases. Forty-two people in Indonesia have already died of avian flu since its presence was confirmed a year ago.
Concerned about the jansan industry’s awareness of the disease and its global implications, Enviro-Solutions, a manufacturer of Green cleaning products, conducted an online survey of industry manufacturers, distributors, and facility service providers regarding the possible implications of an avian flu pandemic.
The survey results indicate that although many jansan professionals are aware of the possibility of an avian flu pandemic, some may be underestimating its impact on their lives and businesses. The survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus five points, found:
. Forty-six percent of the respondents indicate they have a “clear” understanding of the issue (avian flu); 36% say they are “somewhat” aware of the issue or know little about it.
. Approximately 58% report that their customers or clients consider an outbreak of avian flu “a serious threat.”
. Eighty-two percent believe that if there is an outbreak, it will pose a serious danger to the United States and Canada.
. More than 70% believe there are ways to prevent an avian flu outbreak or help minimize the impact of a pandemic should it occur.
. Nearly 90% believe that “the jansan industry will play a role in minimizing the consequences” of an outbreak.
“These figures are much higher than what would probably have been reported a few months ago,” says Mike Sawchuk, vice president and general manager of Enviro-Solutions. “However, I question whether our industry really comprehends how much a pandemic will affect our lives.”
Indeed, over 54% of the respondents believe an avian flu pandemic will not have a negative effect on the jansan industry. “This may be wishful thinking,” says Sawchuk. “If a pandemic occurs, many experts believe schools, offices, stores, and even medical centers may close intermittently and for extended periods of time. Of course this will impact our lives and our industry.”
Sawchuk believes jansan industry leaders and trade associations should actively help the industry understand the avian flu problem and how to deal with it should it become serious. “Unlike SARS, which struck by surprise a few years ago, at least we have some warning,” says Sawchuk. “We can use this time to prepare for the worst, even if it does not happen.”