The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Security and Emergency Preparedness Department today released a special H1N1 flu guide to provide businesses with suggestions on how to keep employees healthy and maintain business operations during the upcoming flu season.

“This year’s H1N1 influenza outbreak has demonstrated how rapidly a new strain of flu can emerge and spread around the world,” said Ann Beauchesne, the Chamber’s vice president of National Security and Emergency Preparedness. “While the initial wave of the H1N1 flu was moderate, the nation cannot let down its guard. Federal officials warn that a second wave this coming fall and winter could be more widespread and severe.”

In communities where H1N1 flu circulated this past spring, the infection rate was roughly 6 to 8% over a three- to four-week period. During the winter, infection rates could be two to three times higher, as both the H1N1 flu and the seasonal flu circulate and sicken people simultaneously.

“Absenteeism would be the central issue for businesses to wrestle with during a pandemic,” Beauchesne said. “Business leaders and managers should focus on reducing the transmission of the H1N1 flu in the workplace — including encouraging sick employees to stay home—and maintaining business continuity.”

In addition to a 10-point preparedness checklist, the guide includes a list of Internet sites, such, that provide businesses with a wealth of detailed information on topics like federal guidance for workplace planning, vaccines, antiviral drugs, face masks, and respirators.

The Chamber has been collaborating closely with the administration and federal agencies to help businesses stay informed, be prepared, and create an environment for a resilient economy.

The Chamber’s guide “It’s Not Flu as Usual” is available