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The Compensability of a Swine Flu Pandemic

The Compensability of a Swine Flu Pandemic

Infectious Disease

In 2009 the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued an alert for the spread of the human swine flu virus. Employers and employees needed to be alerted to preparations and the reactions that may occur.


The H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, is a type of influenza virus that is transmitted from pigs to humans. It first emerged in humans in 2009 and quickly spread around the world, leading to the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The H1N1 flu is characterized by symptoms similar to those of the seasonal flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue. It can also lead to more severe complications such as pneumonia and respiratory failure, which can be life-threatening.

One of the key features of the H1N1 flu is its ability to spread easily from person to person. It is transmitted through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person speaks, coughs, or sneezes. It can also be transmitted by touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

In response to the H1N1 flu pandemic, the WHO and governments worldwide implemented measures to control the spread of the virus. These measures included the development and distribution of a vaccine, as well as recommendations for hand hygiene and the use of face masks in public settings.

Despite these efforts, the H1N1 flu continued to spread, leading to a significant number of deaths worldwide. In addition to the human toll, the H1N1 flu also had significant economic impacts, with businesses and schools shutting down in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

The H1N1 flu serves as a reminder of the importance of public health measures in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. It also highlights the need for ongoing research and preparedness in the event of future pandemics.

In preparation for a Smallpox epidemic, the US government, several years ago, issued rules concerning illness flowing from the distribution of smallpox vaccine. Now the focus will switch from not only compensable conditions flowing from preparation to compensable and contagious diseases in the workplace.

The federal government established a no-fault program entitled the Smallpox Emergency Personnel Protection Act of 2003 (SEPPA) to provide benefits and/or compensation to certain individuals, including healthcare workers and emergency responders, who are injured as a result of the administration of smallpox countermeasures including smallpox (vaccinia) vaccine. The Department of Health and Human Services, under rule-making authority, established a vaccine injury table and procedural process for filing a request for benefits and/or compensation under the Program.


Already the CDC reported , "Human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection was identified in the U.S. in San Diego County and Imperial County, California as well as in San Antonio, Texas. Internationally, human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection were identified in Mexico."

The CDC reported that Swine flu  impacted the US in the past: "Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 and January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S., with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died eight days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death."


As new cases became suspect, the concern focussed on the spread of the disease in the workplace environment. Over 75 students are being tested in New York City. The Governor of California issued an alert. The Federal government directed individuals to their local workers' compensation programs. Since a pandemic could be considered a challenge to Homeland Security, the federalization of prevention, treatment and compensation may ultimately result in an expansion of a nationalization of the program. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued an alert for the spread of the human swine flu virus. Employers and employees need to be alerted to preparations and the reactions that may occur.


The author, Jon L. Gelman, practices law in Wayne, NJ. He is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

© 2008-2022 Jon L Gelman. All rights reserved.

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,  The Compensability of a Swine Flu Pandemic, (2008-2022),

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