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Global supply chains aren't immune to the effects of avian influenza, according to Jeffrey Karrenbauer, president of Insight Inc. The prospect of an Asian bird flu pandemic joins acts of war, natural disasters, acts of terrorism and the nationalization of major industries as reasons to conduct "a rigorous vulnerability analysis" of supply chains, he said in a recent statement. Executives should know how resilient their companies are in the face of such events. All have an impact on corporate survival "and highlight the need for assessing supply chain vulnerability as a factor in business continuity planning." Citing studies by KPMG and others, Karrenbauer claimed that 40 percent of firms without adequate plans for combating business disruption are at risk of going out of business. Three human pandemics occurred in the last century, he noted, and "it is very likely that one or more will affect our lives and businesses in the future." Karrenbauer quoted a recent statement by Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, that human pandemics are likely to occur three times per century. Avian flu is rarely transmitted from human to human, Insight noted. But even without a human pandemic, supply chains could be seriously affected by spread of the flu through birds. Demand for chicken has already dropped dramatically in Europe as a result of the outbreak, Karrenbauer said. In a separate study, AMR Research Inc. has found that 68 percent of companies with more than $1bn in revenues are unprepared for a pandemic. Most have yet to implement any kind of a risk management strategy, incorporating such factors as supply risk planning, the technology to support employees working from home, customer self-service, and the training of workers in multiple jobs.
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