The world is this week mobilising to battle the mutated H1N1 "swine flu" virus which, having caused a suspected 103 deaths in Mexico, is now reported to have spread to the US, Canada and Europe - in the process pulling off the improbable feat of knocking Jade Goody (RIP, princess) from the front pages of panic-stricken UK tabloids.
Those of you who might think that this is just bird flu 2.0, where hysterical newspaper column inches outstrip actual fatalities by a factor of 250,000-1, should be in no doubt that swine flu poses the biggest risk to humanity since the Daily Mail decided it would not perish with mankind and innoculated its staff against avian-borne plague.
Accordingly, we at El Reg have prepared a step-by-step "Porker Pandemic Management Scheme" to ensure that if you are confined to your offices while council mortuary operatives roam the streets with carts, loudly requesting you "bring out your dead", your IT systems will at least still be in rude health:
1) The principal swine flu vectors are: Airborne contagion, unprotected email and Facebook. Accordingly, issue staff with flimsy paper masks, confine them to their cubicles and ban them from social networking until the World Health Organisation says otherwise.
Make sure your email antivirus software is fully up to date. A spokesman for top net security company McManTec told us: "Unfiltered email communications can facilitate the spread of H1N1 through your network in a matter of minutes with catastrophic results. Imagine your office littered with dead employees slumped over their workstations while those still breathing are coughing blood onto their BlackBerries."
The spokesman concluded: "We advise the immediate deployment of McManTec AntiPandemic 3.0®, the only known cure for 99.9 per cent of all viral menaces."
2) There is a clear and present danger from all pig-based products. Establish a "pork cordon" around your premises with security checkpoints to prevent employees smuggling in suspect foodstuffs. Be especially alert for bacon sandwiches - the traditional cure for alcoholic excess. Any worker who has eaten a bacon sandwich within the last five days should be placed in a plexiglass containment cubicle and closely monitored for the symptoms of swine flu.
Be aware that these are identical to the symptoms of a particularly spectacular hangover, so try not to panic unduly if some staff begin to shake uncontrollably and collapse under their desks - this may simply be the result of 16 pints the night before.
3) Protect key staff by isolating them from the swine flu threat - at gunpoint if necessary. Sysadmins should be sealed in the server panic room and provided with filtered air and sufficient foodstuffs for approximately two weeks. Under no circumstances should they leave the room until the Daily Mail says it is safe to do so or the supply of microwaveable mini pizzas and instant coffee runs out, whichever comes soonest.
4) If current scientific predictions are correct, around 80 per cent of the world's population will be dead with the next two weeks. Your company could be critical in rebuilding the planet's population, so select suitable members of your staff for an intensive breeding programme, to begin immediately.
Females should be selected for their sexual attractiveness and fertility. The "alpha male" tasked with mating with this genetic reserve will be the most senior member of management left alive after the pandemic has cut its swathe through the boardroom.
5) Stay calm.