Gallup Poll Finds Few Americans Worried About Zika Virus

Asked how confident they are that the federal government will be able to handle an outbreak of the Zika virus in the United States, 22 percent answered in a March 10-11 Gallup poll that they are very confident, 42 percent are somewhat confident, 19 percent are not too confident, and 14 percent are not confident at all.

About 90 percent of Americans believe they aren't likely to contract the Zika Virus, according to a Gallup poll conducted March 10-11 and discussed in a March 27 online article by Art Swift and Steve Ander. They report that the poll found Americans were more concerned about getting Ebola and swine flu in past years according to their poll responses, and also that 64 percent in the latest poll are at least somewhat confident in government handling of the Zika threat.

Zika is a threat, especially in southern states, and blood donations throughout the United States are being tested for Zika. CDC on March 13 identified a potential risk of Zika virus transmission in Miami-Dade County, Florida, that also could affect risk for residents of Broward and Palm Beach counties, and the agency indicated there may be an increased risk there.

The article referenced "widespread reports of how the [Zika] virus affects fetal development and can be spread by infected individuals traveling from affected areas to areas previously free of the virus. There have been 5,158 Zika cases reported in the U.S. since January 2015 -- in every state except Alaska -- and these cases once garnered significant media attention. The areas in the U.S. that can host mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika are relatively small, and most U.S. cases have involved individuals who had traveled abroad. Millions of Americans contracted the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, and there were 11 confirmed cases of Ebola in the U.S."

Asked how confident they are that the federal government will be able to handle an outbreak of the Zika virus in the United States, 22 percent answered they are very confident, 42 percent are somewhat confident, 19 percent are not too confident, and 14 percent are not confident at all.

"Even if Americans do not feel like they are at risk of contracting Zika, if an outbreak were to occur, they trust the government to handle it at least slightly more than they have similar public health threats in recent years. This sentiment is positive news for the CDC and the federal government as a whole, as trust in government has dwindled overall. At the same time, opinion could shift if government operations in containing or addressing the virus falter or are perceived to falter, rightly or wrongly," the authors wrote.

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