Monday, 23 June 2014

Beijingers still unprepared for influenza pandemics

by Michael Woodhead
Despite the many deaths from H7N9 influenza over the last year, most Beijingers lack basic knowledge about influenza prevention and do not use basic hygiene practices to avoid spread of the infection, a study has found.
In a survey of more than 13,000 Beijing residents found that only 7% had the minimum standard of knowledge and behaviour in relation to influenza prevention.
When asked to complete a survey on influenza, only 24% had adequate influenza-related knowledge, 12% showed influenza prevention behaviour although 43% possessed influenza prevention skills,
The survey tested Beijingers on their knowledge about the disease and its symptoms; and also assessed practices towards influenza and people with influenza-like-illness such as cough etiquette, use of masks, hand washing, and the need to seek medical care for influenza.
The survey also measured skills necessary to avoid and manage influenza such as use of a thermometer, attitudes towards flu vaccine and understanding of information materials related to influenza such as medication instructions.
The low levels of "health literacy" showed that more work was needed to encourage Chinese
"Improvements are needed in terms of certain aspects [of health literacy], particularly for the elderly and the population of rural districts," said Dr Zhang Li and colleagues from the Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 
Update: A study from Guangzhou has also shown widespread misunderstanding about the threat of H7N9 infection. In a survey of more than 1000 city residents, more than 80% did not believe they would be at risk of H7N9 infection from live poultry markets. Resident wrongly believed that poor hygiene practices in markets were responsible for the disease risk, and the vast majority opposed permanent closure of live poultry markets, instead favouring 'rest days' when trading is suspended for cleaning and disinfection.

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