Preventing Australian Bat Lyssavirus: Community Knowledge and Risk Perception of Bats in South East Queensland

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Young, Megan K
El Saadi, Debra
McCall, Bradley J
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2014
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Objectives: Ongoing potential exposure of members of the public to Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) in South East Queensland, Australia, prompted investigation of community knowledge, risk perception, and intention to handle bats to inform future prevention efforts. Methods: After pilot testing, a computer-assisted telephone survey of a representative sample of 700 adults without previous potential exposure to ABLV was undertaken in the defined geographic region. Results: Twenty-four percent of eligible contacted individuals participated. Basic knowledge of bats and ABLV was generally high, with 65% of participants answering nine or more of 12 knowledge questions correctly. The perceived risk that bats pose to human health was also high, with 93% indicating some degree of risk. Although 88% of participants indicated they would handle bats in one or more of the scripted situations, overall intention to handle bats was low, with 59% indicating they would handle a bat in four or less of the 12 scenarios. Younger males with lower risk perception of bats most frequently indicated intention to handle bats in varying situations. Knowledge score was not associated with intention to handle bats on multivariate modeling. Conclusions: Future public health prevention efforts, both in Australia and overseas, should focus further on conveying the risk to humans and to bats when nontrained, nonvaccinated people attempt to handle bats rather than attempting to purely convey knowledge about bats and ABLV or rabies. Suitable alternative measures to handling should be included. Younger adult males are a particular target group for prevention efforts.

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Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases

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14

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4

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This is a copy of an article published in Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. Copyright 2014 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases is available online at: http://www.liebertonline.com.

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Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified

Public Health and Health Services

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