Kids are returning to school, the leaves are changing color and the weather is turning colder: fall is upon us. And with it comes the cold and flu season. In fact, as I write this, my one-year-old son already has a cold and, unfortunately, has passed it on to his mother and me.

This year’s cold and flu season is expected to be even worse than normal as H1N1, or swine flu, is predicted to make a strong comeback. A report released by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology forecasts H1N1 infecting between 30 and 50 percent of the U.S. population and causing up to 90,000 deaths in this country alone. Outbreaks will be more prevalent in schools and possibly peaking in October. 

This fall H1N1 could infect
between 30 and 50 percent
of the U.S. population

Americans are concerned about another H1N1 outbreak. According to a study by the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), two-thirds of respondents said they worry about a pandemic. I can attest: I still receive many calls and e-mails from readers looking for information on pandemic planning. With a threat looming, customers are asking their building service contractors how they can keep their occupants healthy.

This month’s cover story (“Ready…Or Not,”) explores the lessons BSCs learned in the first weeks of the H1N1 outbreak last April and how contractors plan to prepare for Round 2 this fall.

BSCs are going to be playing a significant role in limiting the spread of H1N1 when it resurfaces. A vaccine won’t be ready until mid-October, and even then supplies will be limited. Contractors will need to disinfect commonly touched surfaces and supply soap and hand sanitizer to encourage occupants to wash their hands. But it’s not going to be easy: the SDA survey also reports that 68 percent of respondents are not changing their hygiene habits despite the threat of H1N1.