Research reveals developed nations are at extreme risk of spread of the flu, but their capacity to contain an outbreak is good

The United Kingdom is most at risk to the spread of an influenza pandemic, ranking number one out of 213 countries, according to a risk advisor.

The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada and Japan are also categorised as extreme risk because of their high population density, urbanisation and busy airports.

Maplecroft released three maps to reveal which countries are most at risk from the emergence and spread of a flu pandemic as well as those least likely to be able to contain one.

Even though the UK and other developed nations were ranked as extreme risk of spread, their capacity to contain influenza pandemics appeared to be good, according to the index.

'Large stockpiling of drugs and a sophisticated health infrastructure means they have very effective measures with which to fight human influenza,' noted Maplecroft.

Sub-Saharan Africa stood out as the area least able to contain pandemic influenza with 27 out of the 30 most extreme risk countries.

The Risk of Emergence index categorised Mexico as extreme risk, whilst Vietnam, China and Bangladesh also top the table.

Countries most prone to the emergence of swine or avian flu in humans are poorer countries that have dense rural populations, with living quarters in close proximity to livestock, cautioned the risk advisor.

Maplecroft is making its Influenza Pandemic Policy available free to businesses. To get a copy register at the Maplecroft website.