Public perceptions on non-pharmaceutical interventions for west nile virus infections: A survey from an endemic area in Northern Italy

Matteo Riccò, Simona Peruzzi, Federica Balzarini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the last decade, cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) have occurred in the Emilia Romagna Region (ERR). Even though the notification rates remain relatively low, ranging from 0.06 to 1.83 cases/100,000 inhabitants, the persistent pathogen’s circulation in settings characterized by favorable environmental characteristics suggests that WNV is becoming endemic to the Po River Valley. This study assesses knowledge, attitudes, and preventive practices toward WNV prevention among residents from 10 high-risk municipalities from the provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia (total population: 82,317 inhabitants, census 2020). A web-based survey, based on the health belief model, was performed during the month of January 2021, with a convenience sampling of 469 participants from a series of closed discussion groups on social media (i.e., 2.1% of the potential responders). A total of 243 participants knew the meaning of WNV: Of them, 61.3% were aware of previous WNV infections in ERR, 76.5% acknowledged WNV infection as a severe one, but only 31.3% expressed any worry about WNV. Our results irregularly report preventive practices, either collective (e.g., draining standing water from items and the environment, 50.7%; spraying pesticides around the home, 33.0%) or individual (e.g., use of skin repellants when going outdoors, 42.6%). In a multivariate analysis, performed through binary logistic regression, participants reporting any worry towards WNV were more likely to characterize WNV as a severe disease (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 20.288, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 5.083–80.972). On the contrary, respondents supporting community mosquito control programs were more likely among people working with animals/livestock (aOR = 13.948, 95%CI = 2.793–69.653), and supporting tax exemptions for mosquito control programs (aOR = 4.069, 95%CI 2.098–7.893). In conclusion, our results suggest that future interventions promoting WNV prevention among residents in ERR should focus on perceptions of vulnerability to WNV, emphasizing the benefits of personal protective behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116
JournalTropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Knowledge
  • Risk perception
  • West Nile Fever
  • West Nile Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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