Zika virus, an emerging serious infectious disease, is a threat to persons living or travelling to regions where it is currently endemic, and also to contacts of infected individuals. The aim of this study was to assess knowledge about this new public health threat to persons residing in a Middle Eastern country.
We conducted a survey at several international universities in Qatar to assess knowledge and awareness about this disease. An adapted version of the survey was also conducted using online channels from Qatar.
The median age of the 446 participants, was 25 years, 280 (63%) were females, and 32% were from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) or other Middle East countries. Based upon their knowledge about availability of a vaccine, role of mosquitoes and other modes of transmission, and disease complications, we classified respondent's knowledge as "poor" (66%), "basic" (27%) or "broad" (7%). Forty-five (16%) persons with poor knowledge considered themselves to be well-informed.
This report from a sample of persons associated with Middle East educational complex, reveals inadequate knowledge about Zika virus, a serious emerging infectious disease. Although few cases have been reported from the region, future cases are possible, since this area is a transit hub connecting currently infected regions to North America, Europe and Asia. As a preventive measure, an educational program about Zika virus would be valuable, especially for individuals or family members travelling to afflicted regions.