Americans Predict Avian Flu Will Reach the U.S.

by Lydia Saad

One-quarter of Americans worried about getting the virus

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A recent Gallup poll suggests that Americans welcome President George W. Bush's new initiative to handle a possible pandemic caused by the Asian bird flu in the United States. According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Oct. 21-23, half of Americans polled at the time were very or somewhat confident the federal government could handle such an outbreak. And, although just one in four Americans say they are worried about themselves or a family member getting the avian flu, most predict the virus will eventually strike the United States.

On Nov. 1, the White House announced its $7.1 billion strategy for managing a pandemic if the avian flu mutates into a form that can be easily spread from human to human. Thus far, most of the deaths (all in Asia) have resulted from contracting the virus directly from infected poultry.

Prior to the release of Bush's plan, only 14% of Americans polled Oct. 21-23 said they were "very confident" the federal government could handle an outbreak of bird flu in the United States. Another 38% are "somewhat confident," while one-quarter are "not too confident" and 22% are "not confident at all."

Respondents' confidence in the federal government varies sharply by their party affiliation. About 7 in 10 Republicans say they are very or somewhat confident the government could handle an outbreak, compared with just less than half of independents and even fewer Democrats.

Partisanship also influences Americans' willingness to say they are fearful of contracting the virus. Overall, 24% of Americans say they are worried that they or someone in their family could be a victim, while 75% are not worried. The percent worried is only 13% among Republicans, but 23% among independents and 33% among Democrats.

The only other demographic factor related to fear of contracting the virus is age. Older adults are about twice as likely as those aged 18 to 49 to say they worry about themselves or a family member contracting it -- 18% of those aged 18 to 49 versus 30% of those aged 50 and older.

Public: U.S. Bird Flu Outbreak Likely

Sixty-two percent of Americans say it is either very or somewhat likely that the avian flu will strike the United States, but respondents are not entirely convinced -- just 16% say this is "very likely." Only 7% completely discount the chances, saying it is "not at all likely."

There is little variation in this prediction either by standard demographics (such as gender, age, and education) or party identification.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,008 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 21-23, 2005. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

21. As you may know, a virus known as "bird flu" or "avian flu" has killed some people in Asia. How confident are you that the federal government could handle an outbreak of bird flu in this country -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not confident at all?

Very
confident

Somewhat
confident

Not too
confident

Not confident
at all

No
opinion

2005 Oct 21-23

14%

38

25

22

1

22. Are you worried that you or someone in your family will be the victim of the bird flu virus, or not?


BASED ON 512 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

Worried

Not worried

No opinion

2005 Oct 21-23

24

75

1

23. How likely do you think it is that the bird flu virus will strike the U.S. -- very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not likely at all?

BASED ON 496 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

Very
likely

Somewhat
likely

Not too
likely

Not likely
at all

No
opinion

2005 Oct 21-23

16%

46

29

7

2

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