A new video on pandemic flu preparation has been launched to help businesses, government agencies and community-based organizations prepare for the ongoing threat of what could be a catastrophic, world-wide event.

Public Health Seattle & King County has launched Business Not As Usual: Preparing for Pandemic Flu, a 20-minute training video to help advance local preparedness efforts.

The video is available online now at www.metrokc.gov/health/pandemicflu/video. A free DVD can also be ordered, which includes helpful planning materials.

"It's essential that businesses, government and social service agencies can continue to provide critical services to the public during a severe pandemic flu, which will last for months," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "We developed this video to inspire and support local businesses and organizations in their preparations."

Created to assist workplace leaders and staff in their pandemic flu planning efforts, the video describes the threat of pandemic flu and what life might look like during an outbreak. It also shows the benefits of being ready, and provides practical tips for creating a plan.

"Buildings are left standing, and the roads remain open, but the health impacts of a severe pandemic flu will be felt throughout our community," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health Seattle & King County. "Everyone will need to change how we do business when a pandemic flu comes, so it's important that everyone prepares now."

The video profiles community leaders who share their experience in preparedness. The cast includes local leaders from Washington Mutual, Food Lifeline, Puget Sound Energy, Harborview Medical Center, Chinese Information and Service Center and the Seattle Fire Department. King County Executive Ron Sims and Public Health experts also offer their knowledge and experience in disaster preparation.

"At Food Lifeline, we've been working hard to create sound plans to prepare our staff and organization to respond effectively in times of disaster," said Linda Nagoette, President & CEO. "Whether the challenges we face are weather related or stem from pandemic flu, it's our responsibility as a service provider to be ready -- both at home, and at work."

A pandemic flu is a new influenza virus that could be a much more serious flu virus than seen in a typical flu season. Different from the typical, seasonal strains of flu, humans would have no or little natural resistance to a new strain of influenza.

Once a pandemic virus develops, it can spread rapidly causing outbreaks around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that as much as 25 percent to 30 percent of the United States population could be affected. In King County alone, a severe pandemic flu could make 540,000 people ill, 270,000 would need outpatient care, over 59,000 would need hospitalization, and 11,500 could die in the first six weeks of an outbreak.

For more information on pandemic flu, visit the Public Health Web site.