|Credit Saudi MOH|
Over the past few months the Saudi MOH has done a much better job of conveying information about their MERS response via a weekly report from their CCC (Command & Control Centre), which are published at this link.
This week, the CCC presents the results of a recent survey of the public's understanding of the MERS threat, and common misconceptions about the disease.
The chart at the head of this blog lists 5 common erroneous beliefs, and the number & percentage of those who held them out of the 1373 people polled. The respondents were primarily female and urban, and just under half were aged 20-29.
Despite two years of warnings from the MOH and MOA, many of the misconceptions still center around the safety of camel products. We've seen continual resistance to the idea that camels - a beloved symbol of their country - could carry a disease like MERS (see Saudi Camel Owners Threaten Over MERS `Slander’).
More than half did not realize the virus could be carried asymptomatically, and a surprisingly high number thought children were at the most risk, despite the overwhelming percentage of cases being among older adults.
While it would have been nice to see the full survey results (perhaps they will be published separately), today's report provides us with a pretty good idea of some of the public education challenges that KSA's MOH still faces with this outbreak.
Misconceptions about MERS
The Command and Control Centre (CCC) discussed results of a survey intended to assess levels of misconceptions about MERS in the community.
MERS is a public health risk in Saudi Arabia. Role of the general public in controlling the spread of MERS is essential. Assessment of knowledge, attitude and practice toward MERS is necessary to plan, implement and evaluate effective risk communication and awareness activities.
As a preliminary stage, the CCC represented by the communication platform explored major areas of misconceptions and/or misunderstandings that may stand as obstacles toward achieving healthy behaviors to control MERS. A cross-sectional survey was performed for that purpose among the population in Saudi Arabia to explore the prevalence of misconceptions about MERS and also the top sources of health information in the community.
The survey was conducted during the period between February 7, 2016, and March 27, 2016. A total of 1373 participants were en-rolled. Majority of the sample were Females, Saudis, and living in urban areas (68.5 %, 93.3%, and 81.6% respectively). About 45% of the participants were young adults (20-29 years old).
The majority of respondents had several misconceptions in all aspects of MERS. Some of the most concerning findings are mainly about transmission of infection, dealing with infected camels, and confusion about the risk groups (Table 1).
(Continue . . .)