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Assessing Americans’ Zika Awareness

The AP-NORC Center probes Zika knowledge in advance of mosquito season

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus originally endemic to Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, made international headlines in 2015 when an outbreak in Brazil began spreading through the Americas and the disease was linked to corresponding spikes in microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults. In February 2016, the World Health Organization issued a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention heightened its efforts to respond to the disease. To gauge public awareness and understanding of Zika in advance of the summer mosquito season, The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a poll using AmeriSpeak, NORC’s probability-based panel of pre-recruited participants that allows NORC and its clients to conduct scientifically rigorous surveys on issues of the moment. Conducted in March 2016, among the survey’s results:

  • Four in 10 Americans had heard only a little or nothing at all about the Zika virus.
  • Ninety percent of those who had heard of Zika knew that it can be spread through the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus; however, only 57 percent were aware that Zika can be spread through sexual intercourse with an infected person.
  • Only 16 percent of adults worried that the United States would experience a large number of Zika cases.