The Open Epidemiology
What Parameters Correlate with the Sense of Knowledge During
the Early Phase of a Bird Flu Outbreak in Israel?
Galit Shohat, Rami Peltz and Yaron Bar-Dayan Pp
Introduction: On March 2006, 298,000 cases of birds infected
with bird flu were destroyed in nine rural settlements in Israel,
out of a total of 1.2 million birds that were destroyed within these
settlements and in a radius of 3 km. The population was instructed
to take precautionary measures to prevent a disease outbreak. The
sense of knowledge of the population concerning the disease correlated
with compliance with authorities' instructions.
Objectives: To analyze the relationships between the sources
of information, and public emotions and interest in avian influenza
with the sense of knowledge concerning the disease in the affected
area and the nationwide population, during the first phase of a
bird flu outbreak in Israel.
Methods: We conducted a telephone survey among two randomly
selected, representative samples of adults, during the first phase
of a bird flu outbreak. One sample involved 500 adult residents
of the nationwide area; and the other sample involved 103 adult
residents of the affected area. We measured the use of mass media,
emotions, interest, and sense of knowledge of the population concerning
avian influenza. We analyzed the relationships between the sources
of information and public emotions with the sense of knowledge using
chi-square and t-tests. A P value of < 0.05 was considered to
be statistically significant.
Results: TV viewers in the affected area had a significantly
lower sense of knowledge concerning avian influenza (P<0.05).
Internet users in the nationwide population had a significantly
higher sense of knowledge (P<0.05). People in the affected area
with higher levels of stress had a significantly lower sense of
knowledge (P<0.05). People in the nationwide population with
a higher level of interest had a significantly higher sense of knowledge
Conclusion: The use of the internet as a source of information,
combined with a high level of interest and low levels of stress
correlated with a high sense of knowledge concerning avian influenza
during the early phase of an avian influenza outbreak in Israel.
Authorities should consider these findings when planning the strategy
of mass media use, in order to increase the public’s sense
of knowledge concerning the disease and to enhance control of the
disease outbreak by improving the compliance of the population with
the authorities' instructions.