People at highest risk of Zika infection are the ones least likely to know something about the virus
Published in BMC Infectious Diseases, the study evaluated the knowledge of symptoms, health effects, and prevention practices associated with Zika in 75 inhabitants of coastal rural communities of the Dominican Republic. Although it is a limited sample, its original contribution is that it focused on rural populations.
In comparison with the urban population, a previous work that included 608 Dominicans living near the capital city of Santo Domingo determined that about 50% knew the relationship between mosquitoes and Zika, which represents a 13 percent difference with respect to the rural population.
According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 80 countries are affected by Zika, a disease that is transmitted mainly by the bite of the infected mosquito of the genus Aedes, the same from dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
However, the study in the Dominican Republic found a high ignorance of the role of mosquitoes in the transmission of the disease and also found that 26.5 percent did not protect themselves with inadequate measures, such as consuming clean water.
The research also revealed knowledge about the sex route as another form of Zika infection, since recently it was found that the virus is able to survive in semen for up to 62 days after the onset of symptoms. This finding has raised the alarm about sexual transmission, which may be underestimated.
About this topic, in the study in the Dominican Republic, only one woman correctly identified this route of transmission. Also, only five people (10.4 percent) were aware of the association between this disease and microcephaly.
These results are also different from another study conducted among 526 urban women (from the city of Aracajú, state of Sergipe, Brazil), who found that 50.2 percent were aware of the sexual transmission of Zika and 98.6 percent knew of its association with congenital defects in newborns.
It is important to use common communication channels, such as television in Latin America, to promote public health messages that can educate locals and develop resistance to diseases.
People with lower incomes and education also have less knowledge about the risks and use less preventive measures against the Zika virus.