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Survey finds nearly half of Americans concerned they or their family may get sick from swine flu
Date:5/1/2009

Boston, MAFollowing the declaration of a public health emergency due to the new H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, the Harvard Opinion Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a poll about how concerned Americans are about the outbreak, how they are responding and what they believe about transmission, prevention and treatment.

Concerns about the outbreak

The survey finds that nearly half of Americans are concerned (46%) that they or someone in their immediate family may get sick from swine flu during the next 12 months.

Americans' response to the outbreak

More than half of Americans are responding to the outbreak by washing their hands or using hand sanitizer more frequently (59%), and a quarter are avoiding places where many people are gathered, like sporting events, malls or public transportation (25%). Some Americans have also responded in other ways: avoiding people who they thought may have recently traveled to Mexico (20%), avoiding Mexican restaurants or stores (17%), wearing a face mask (8%), buying a face mask (5%), talking with their doctor about health issues related to swine flu (5%), or getting a prescription for antiviral medications (1%). Only a small number (4%) of parents have kept their children home from school or daycare.

"It is a good sign that most people, though not all, are taking the most important precaution recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of swine flu: washing their hands," said Robert J. Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Beliefs about swine flu

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that they can get the current swine flu from being in close contact with someone who has it (83%), and few believe that they can get the disease from eating pork (13%). Some Americans also believe that they can get the swine flu from b
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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-3952
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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