Abstract: Disease emergence and persistence are inherently geographic phenomena, and programs to prevent both are most effective at the local-scale. Specifically, mosquito-borne disease can often be prevented with individual personal precautions; however, effective preventative action typically results from efficient public health programs that teach preventative measures. This study uses principles of disease ecology and the Health Belief Model to examine perceptions of mosquito-borne disease and preventative action in southwest Virginia, USA using a survey. Results suggest low knowledge of mosquito-borne disease among participants, despite recent cases of La Crosse encephalitis and the introduction of West Nile virus to bird populations. Additionally, gender, age, and length of county residence are significant predictors of knowledge, perceived effectiveness of preventative actions, and health seeking behaviors, respectively. These results support the application of the Health Belief Model within a disease ecology framework to study infectious diseases and assist in tailoring local public health programs.
Southeastern Geographer – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Sep 3, 2010