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August 11, 2005

International SOS Launches New Services to Help Businesses Prepare for Influenza PandemicPR Newswire

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- International SOS announced today the launch of a suite of services designed to assist organizations in developing specific pandemic preparedness plans, and a specific "Pandemic Preparedness" website available to its members and visitors. The website may be accessed by going to http://www.internationalsos.com and clicking on the "Avian Flu and Pandemic Preparedness" link.

Throughout history, there have been several influenza (flu) pandemics each century. Many scientists believe that the world will experience yet another pandemic -- what is not known is when the pandemic will occur. If the avian influenza A (H5N1) virus, now affecting countries in Asia and Russia, develops the ability to spread easily from person to person, the world may suffer an influenza pandemic that could be as severe as the 1917-18 pandemic that killed nearly 100 million people. A new pandemic would likely affect millions of people worldwide, and cause significant social and economic disruption.

"Despite the significant medical advances that have occurred since 1917- 18, very little has changed in the clinical management of influenza," said Dr. Myles Druckman, Vice President of Medical Assistance for International SOS. "Since the specific virus that will cause the next pandemic will not be known until after the pandemic begins, a vaccine cannot be produced in advance. Even when the pandemic occurs, the virus is identified, and vaccine production begins, production limitations mean that only limited quantities will initially be available. For these reasons preparation and surveillance are critical to an effective response to a pandemic."

"Many national governments are developing extensive pandemic preparedness plans and are stockpiling antiviral drugs. However, there is little or no advice specifically directed towards the business community," Dr. Druckman continued. "We believe we can assist organizations with their planning so they can more effectively medically manage their employees and travelers, especially those in less developed countries, to assist in business continuity. Good planning is critical."

The International SOS Pandemic Preparedness website has three levels of information. The public area of the website contains valuable information regarding the outbreak of avian flu in Asia and the potential impact should it become a pandemic. The second level of the website is available only to International SOS corporate clients and individual members, and contains more details on avian, seasonal and pandemic flu and general information about pandemic preparedness.

The third level of the website contains the "International SOS Pandemic Protocols", a 120-page highly researched document available to International SOS clients who purchase the information. The protocols are designed to help organizations develop an organization-specific Pandemic Preparedness Plan and address specific employee health and business continuity concerns. The protocols include advice on infection control, stocking and use of antiviral drugs, disinfection, management of suspected cases, medical evacuation and traveler management. International SOS can help its clients to customize these generic protocols to suit their organization's specific situation. Additional pandemic preparedness services offered by International SOS to its clients include consultation on antiviral drug policies and protocols, as well as work site assessments and employee training programs.

Regarding the current pandemic concerns, Dr. Druckman commented, "Our global network of telephone assistance centers, clinics, and offices are on the front line of information regarding the development and spread of avian flu and the potential for it to become a global pandemic. We are supplementing our knowledge via direct and regular contact with the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national and local health authorities, and other government bodies responsible for public health. By combining all of the data available to us, we feel that that our "Pandemic Preparedness" website contains comprehensive information that is easily accessible on one site, and complements the new pandemic preparedness services we have launched around the globe."

About International SOS

International SOS ( http://www.internationalsos.com ) is the world's leading provider of medical assistance, international healthcare, security services and outsourced customer care.

With 4,000 professionals operating in over 60 countries, International SOS helps organizations manage the health and safety risks facing their travelers and global workforce. Working in some of the most inhospitable places on earth, International SOS offers international standards of medical care where it is not available or where cultural and language barriers exist.

Founded by a doctor, the company's "people first" approach remains true today. This commitment extends to its outsourced customer care programs and added value services, where it helps clients achieve service excellence and competitive advantage.

Clients include 81% of the FORTUNE Global 100's leading multinational corporations, insurers and financial institutions as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The Americas headquarters for International SOS is in Philadelphia, with offices in Toronto and Houston.

International SOS

CONTACT: Andrea Bestul, Senior Marketing Manager of International SOS,+1-215-942-8050, andrea.bestul@internationalsos.com , or Terry Banks,Senior Vice President of Fleishman-Hillard Communications, +1-202-828-9710,bankst@fleishman.com

Web site: http://www.internationalsos.com/

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Posted by dymaxion at August 11, 2005 01:50 PM

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