Bernstein Crisis Management. Crisis response, prevention, planning, and training.

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2009 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 4,500+
Estimated Readership: 17,000+


Breaking Crisis Alert - Swine Flu
By Jonathan Bernstein

Every reader of this ezine, every organization with which you're associated, can now potentially be affected at a crisis level by the swine flu outbreak in Mexico which has not only killed at least 80 people there but which has already spread across the border to the United States and overseas to New Zealand — a deadly gift to 22 students and three teachers who visited Mexico recently.

Steps you should take immediately:

(1) Educate yourself on swine flu. The best starting place is the Center for Disease Control. That fact sheet links to more data. According to the CDC, "The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea." It spreads just like "regular" flu — through the victim's coughing, sneezing and/or touching someone else. It cannot, according to the CDC's info, be spread by eating pork.

(2) Anyone who comes and goes from Mexico regularly should be particularly alert for signs of flu and go to a physician immediately if those symptoms occur.

(3) Employers should ensure that all employees know of this threat and are urged to report symptoms in themselves or others immediately

(4) Be prepared for business interruptions if your workforce is impacted; health officials could even quarantine groups of people who they believe have had direct contact with someone already infected.

(5) Have messaging ready for clients or customers who want to know what you're doing to protect them.

(6) If you have operations in Mexico, strongly consider a temporary freeze on outbound travel by employees there and inbound travel by employees already out of the country.

(7) Retail food organizations may get some customer fear about consuming pork. As noted above, the disease can't be spread that way. Nonetheless, your employees CAN spread the disease and common sense measures that are probably already in place (e.g. handwashing) should probably be the focus of refresher training.

(8) Err on the side of caution. This disease apparently spreads easily and the way such illnesses become epidemics is too many people going about "business as usual" without taking extra precautions.

As I collect additional reliable information on this topic, or have any updated crisis management recommendations, I will post them on my blog. If you have crisis management-related questions (not health questions please!) on this subject, please email them to me,, and I will start a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that will be maintained and updated on the blog.

Be well! Be prepared!


Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. has formal or informal co-promotional and mutually beneficial business associations with a number of the services we mention periodically in this newsletter. No, we can't go into details because that's confidential, proprietary, etc. But our relationship is NOT "arm's distance" and you should know that, since we regularly write about these services as we use them for crisis and issues management or other purposes. That said, you should also know that Bernstein Crisis Management sought the relationships because its staff is convinced that these services are the best of their kind for Bernstein Crisis Management's needs and those of its clients. If you have any questions about these relationships, please contact Jonathan Bernstein, (626) 825-3838.


Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.,, a national crisis management public relations agency providing 24/7 access to crisis response professionals. The agency engages in the full spectrum of crisis management services: crisis prevention, response, planning & training. He has been in the public relations field since 1982, following five-year stints in both military intelligence and investigative reporting. Write to


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