Forget the swine flu for a minute. There's another potential pandemic starting in California. On Wednesday, health officials gave the whooping cough—a disease of the respiratory mucous membrane—epidemic status in the Golden State. Also known as pertussis, it's called whooping cough because the disease brings severe coughing spells that end with a whopping sound when the person breathes in.

Los Angeles County alone has confirmed 148 cases of whooping cough. Another 55 cases were reported in Orange County. Across the state, that figure rises to 910 cases. Five babies have died from the disease in California this year. This isn't the first time whooping cough has reared its ugly head there. In 2005, there were 3,182 cases and eight deaths.

When epidemics like the H1-N1 or the whooping cough—or even when during regular flu season—it's wise to have alternative working arrangements such as virtual offices for employees. Children are most at risk, but 38 percent of children diagnosed with whooping cough got it from their mother and another 17 percent got it from their father, according to Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health.

With a virtual office, employees can reduce the risk of contracting and spreading whopping cough. A virtual office allows the employee to work their home in Los Angeles, for example, and still appear to clients as if they are working from the office. The virtual office system is complete with virtual office technologies like Cisco's WebEx, along with virtual receptionists who answer and route calls seamlessly.

A virtual office can also make it possible for employees to get some work done at home while suffering from whooping cough. The employee may feel well enough to work but may still be contagious. A virtual office quarantines the employee, if you will, from other employees so the pertussis doesn't spread across the organization. Yet the company reduces productivity loss by making it possible for the employee to continue working from the virtual office.

Whether it's airline strikes, natural disasters or epidemics like the whooping cough, the virtual office can help mitigate the risks. Avoiding lost productivity and stemming the spread of disease don't depend on virtual offices alone, but this tool is part of a larger solution that comes with many additional benefits. Davinci Virtual has virtual offices available in major California cities, including Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Irvine, Burbank and beyond.

Check out this newsbyte on the whooping cough epidemic in California: