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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A survey of knowledge, attitudes and practices towards avian influenza in an adult population of Italy

Gabriella Di Giuseppe, Rossella Abbate, Luciana Albano, Paolo Marinelli and Italo F Angelillo*

Author Affiliations

Department of Public, Clinical and Preventive Medicine, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2008, 8:36  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-8-36

Published: 17 March 2008

Abstract

Background

Several public health strategic interventions are required for effective prevention and control of avian influenza (AI) and it is necessary to create a communication plan to keep families adequately informed on how to avoid or reduce exposure. This investigation determined the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors relating to AI among an adult population in Italy.

Methods

From December 2005 to February 2006 a random sample of 1020 adults received a questionnaire about socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge of transmission and prevention about AI, attitudes towards AI, behaviors regarding use of preventive measures and food-handling practices, and sources of information about AI.

Results

A response rate of 67% was achieved. Those in higher socioeconomic classes were more likely to identify the modes of transmission and the animals' vehicles for AI. Those older, who knew the modes of transmission and the animals' vehicles for AI, and who still need information, were more likely to know that washing hands soap before and after touching raw poultry meat and using gloves is recommended to avoid spreading of AI through food. The risk of being infected was significantly higher in those from lower socioeconomic classes, if they did not know the definition of AI, if they knew that AI could be transmitted by eating and touching raw eggs and poultry foods, and if they did not need information. Compliance with the hygienic practices during handling of raw poultry meat was more likely in those who perceived to be at higher risk, who knew the hygienic practices, who knew the modes of transmission and the animals' vehicles for AI, and who received information from health professionals and scientific journals.

Conclusion

Respondents demonstrate no detailed understanding of AI, a greater perceived risk, and a lower compliance with precautions behaviors and health educational strategies are strongly needed.