Small Pox and Forgotten Boxes


In early July of this year, a scientist working at a National Institutes of Health campus near Washington, DC, was going through some old boxes in preparation for a move to a different facility. The occasional unexpected find while cataloging dated records and items will be familiar to any organization that has grown or changed locations. Sometimes this process can turn up long-forgotten treasures or other cherished items.

However in this case, the scientist's rummaging uncovered six vials of small pox, a disease deemed to be eradicated in 1979 after killing an estimated 300-500 million people over the course of the 20th century. This discovery was mildly embarrassing to the United States government, and was upsetting to many employees at the facility who learned about the incident only after it was reported by the news media. Fortunately, however, the vials were secured and no one was exposed.

If this episode teaches us anything, it is that nothing stays buried forever. Businesses, non-profits and other organizations  would be wise to remember that their own version of small pox could be sitting in some forgotten corner, just waiting to be discovered. Whether it is an embarrassing old memo, a disgruntled employee record, or any number of other problems hidden beneath the surface of an organization's day-to-day calm, it is important to have processes in place to proactively identify and manage potential crisis situations.

To learn more about how HUB International can assist you and your business in preparing for the unexpected, please contact us.