As the world turned its eyes to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, athletes and visitors alike were warned to take precautions against the Zika virus—a flu-like strain that comes with the added risk of crippling birth defects. The situation is so serious that health authorities are urging women in South America to avoid becoming pregnant for a year or more—a demographic anomaly with far-reaching economic implications down the road. Previous pandemics—swine flu, Ebola, SARS, cholera and MERS—have wreaked economic havoc. And the National Science Foundation predicts five new emerging pandemic diseases annually.
Viral outbreaks and their global consequences represent only one of the macro-level trends we’re watching as part of Protiviti’s ongoing PreView global risk series. In this article, Protiviti evaluates these emerging risks according to the five global risk categories established by the World Economic Forum.