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PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 25 January 2018

Camille Fritzell, Jocelyn Raude, Mirdad Kazanji, Claude Flamand
Although dengue fever has been a focus of many awareness campaigns in Latin America, very little information is available about beliefs, attitudes and behaviors regarding vector-borne diseases among the population of French Guiana. Following the end of the first chikungunya outbreak and at the initial onset of the first zika outbreak, a quantitative survey was conducted among 1129 individuals aiming to study the emotional, cognitive and behavioral response to the risk of zika infection and assess variations among different groups of population. People from French Guiana were found to perceive zika substantially differently from other Aedes mosquito-borne diseases. Overall, ZIKV appeared at the time of the survey as a new health threat that makes the population more scared than chikungunya and dengue fever. Furthermore, both the beliefs and behaviors related to zika and its prevention were found to vary considerably among different social groups, gender and geographic areas. Education had an impact on perceptions and behaviors among women. Female population has been particularly responsive to awareness campaigns and rapidly understood the extent of risks associated with ZIKV infection. Overall, findings emphasize the importance of developing appropriate and relevant strategies helping population to engage in protective behaviors adapted to the health threat they are facing. Given the importance of the public response and precautionary actions to control the spread of an emergent threat, additional research on risk perceptions and other behavioral determinants is warranted.