The Swine Flu is quickly spreading, and it's not the weak and elderly that are catching this sometimes-fatal illness. The Swine Flu, also referred to as the Spanish Flu, is hitting the young and healthy as well. And a world-pandemic, similar to the one that caused over 20 million deaths in 1918, is a concern of health officials.

In America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting 64 confirmed cases in five states, while Canada is reporting six confirmed cases. Spain has reported one confirmed case. Infection cases could be as far away as New Zealand, Israel and quickly spread through Europe, though unconfirmed at this point.

And where it all began, some 30 cases from Mexico have been confirmed by a Canadian laboratory since March, according to the World Health Organization, though many more are thought to have caused an excess of 81 deaths in Mexico City alone.

Dave Shepherd, CEO of Readiness Resource Group, knows how to handle situations like this. "I have done extensive research and created entire preparedness programs for companies. Preparedness for this type of event cannot be created overnight, but takes considerable preparedness for effective response, training, supply chain assurance and communication channels, to name only a few.

"Preparedness reduces doubt, fear and panic, which are the first reactions to an event of this nature. Effective and timely communications between senior management, supply chains, and employees is a must, coupled with updates. Monitoring national and international Web sites, in addition to national news sources provides guidance," said Shepherd.

The most troublesome part of this disease is that it isn't affecting only the elderly or sick. The AP wires are reporting "mild" outbreaks at the St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, N.Y., which is ironically where the outbreak was rumored to have started in the United States during the 1918 pandemic.

Bernard Scaglione, Director of Security at the New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, has been preparing for this type of problem for a while. "All of the EDs (emergency departments) in New York get daily information on flu cases, patterns and trends. In addition, the Health Department requires all hospitals to have a pandemic flu policy for the treatment and care for mass amounts of people," said Scaglione.

As a precaution, DHS Secretary Napolitano has released approximately 12.5 million of some 50 million stockpiled treatment courses. The DoD has also taken precautions by strategically prepositioning 7 million treatment courses for immediate use.

New York Presbyterian is also taking similar measures. "Our plan calls for the mass dosing of medication to hospital staff, the delivery of extra supplies, and the lock down of hospital buildings in the event of a surge in persons seeking medication and treatment. The plan also looks at reduced staffing levels due to illness or fear to come to work," said Scaglione. "For security, we lock all entrances and screen all persons wishing to enter to ensure the sick are delivered to the ED and all others reach their destination within the hospital. We will probably meet weekly or more to ensure we are all ready in the event the flu becomes a pandemic."

Shepherd explained why we need to be aware of this issue. "We should always be concerned when a disease extends its tentacles across multiple countries around the world in such a short time frame. We are a global society, which is based on international trade and freedom of movement. Because of these points, an effective response to this potential event is not a Mexican response or an American response or a Spanish response, but a global response," said Shepherd. "The impact of swine flu on a business isn’t a security issue alone, but a corporate issue that affects every level."  

Shepherd also suggests following information closely. "National news sources and Web sites, such as World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Agriculture, European Union, and local/state home health departments are good sources to follow," said Shepherd.

CDC officials are cautioning Americans to wash hands thoroughly, keep hands away from your face, and stay home from school or work if you are sick. For now, CDC and DHS officials are reporting successful treatment as simply taking prescription antiviral medications Tamiflu or Relenza.