Friday, March 23, 2007

Report: Pandemic flu outbreak could spark major U.S. recession

A severe influenza pandemic could plunge the United States into a major recession the likes of which the nation hasn't seen since World War II, according to a March 22 report.

Released by the Trust for America’s Health, the report found that a flu pandemic could cause the U.S. gross domestic product, or economic output, to drop by more than 5.5 percent, triggering an economic loss of $683 billion.

“The United States is not prepared to face an economic shock of this magnitude,” said Jeff Levi, PhD, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health. “While important government preparedness efforts focusing mainly on medical and public health strategies are under way, efforts to prepare for the possible economic ramifications have been seriously inadequate.”

States with high levels of tourism and entertainment –- such as Nevada and Hawaii –- would be the hardest hit. Nevada’s economy could face the largest GDP fall, at 8.08 percent, followed by Hawaii, which could experience a 6.6 percent drop. Six states –- Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska, Wyoming, Nebraska and Louisiana -– could suffer economic losses of more than 6 percent.

The report, “Pandemic Flu and the Potential for U.S. Economic Recession,” based its findings on the impact of a pandemic on 20 industries as well as trade and worker productivity. The report's estimates are modeled after the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic, which killed an estimated 20 million people worldwide. If a flu pandemic of that magnitude hit the world today, it could result in 90 million cases of illness and 2.2 million deaths in the United States alone, the Trust for America’s Health predicts.

APHA is offering free resources to help you, your family and your community prepare for pandemic flu. See our Get Ready Web site for free fact sheets and other materials. The 2007 National Public Health Week Web site also offers a wealth of free general preparedness information.

1 comment:

healthkick said...

I am less concerned about the economic cost to businesses than the health of workers and the public during an infectious disease outbreak, but if a report like this makes businesses think, that's a good thing.