, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 28–34 | Cite as

A Model for Defining West Nile Virus Risk Perception Based on Ecology and Proximity



West Nile virus (WNV) has made considerable impact as an emerging infectious disease, spreading from coast to coast across North America since 1999. The disease has exhibited great spatial variability in North America, making an ecosystems approach to understanding the local human and vector ecology critical to prevention and control. This study underscores the importance of employing both personal prevention and community participatory approaches to create messages that have been adapted to the local ecology and are designed to reduce the risk of human infection with this mosquito-borne virus. As the virus spreads into new areas, underlying attitudes toward mosquitoes and the local perception of environment/ecology can affect the success of control and prevention measures. This work presents results from focus group discussions conducted in two Colorado counties in 2003, a year of significant WNV activity in the state. Issues addressed include residents’ assessment of risk and how this perception varied by age group and location, use or nonuse of repellents, and community attitudes toward mosquito control in areas with different ecologies and histories of mosquito-borne disease. The need to address individual components of personal prevention, to target prevention to specific audiences, and to disseminate prevention messages through local channels is discussed. The authors propose including aspects of ecology and disease proximity in understanding risk perception and addressing emerging diseases with a prominent ecological component.


West Nile virus ecology risk perception vector-borne disease 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily C. Zielinski-Gutierrez
    • 1
  • Mary H. Hayden
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Vector-Borne Infectious DiseasesCenters for Disease Control and PreventionFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Trauma Center/NISSCUniversity of ColoradoColorado SpringsUSA

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