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What do Americans think about the Zika outbreak?

Eight in 10 Americans have heard or read at least something about Zika - a virus spread mainly by mosquitoes that has recently reached the U.S. and which can cause birth defects and other illnesses - and most are at least somewhat concerned about a possible outbreak. Sixty-four percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that there will be a large outbreak of the Zika virus inside the United States within the next twelve months, including 1 in 4 who are very concerned.


The greatest risk posed by Zika is to unborn babies, who can contract severe fetal brain defects if the pregnant mother is infected with the virus. Concern about an outbreak of Zika in the U.S. is considerably higher among Americans who have a family member who is or is trying to become pregnant: 40 percent of these Americans are very concerned.


Americans show concern that the federal government is not prepared if an outbreak were to occur. Sixty-four percent of Americans do not think the federal government is adequately prepared to deal with a widespread outbreak of Zika inside the U.S. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents all don't think the federal government is adequately prepared.


Most Americans think Congress should approve additional funding to help prevent the spread of Zika. Fifty-seven percent think Congress should approve more funding, while just 27 percent think enough is being spent already. Here Americans divide along party lines: majorities of Democrats and independents want Congress to approve more funding, while Republicans are more likely to think enough is being spent already.


Personal Risk

Still, few Americans believe their family is directly at risk. Three in four Americans don't think it is likely that they or a member of their family will get Zika, including 36 percent who say it is not at all likely. Just 22 percent think this is at least somewhat likely. Even in the South - the primary region where the Aedes species of mosquitoes who can carry the virus are most likely to be found - few Americans think they are likely to contract Zika.

Nevertheless, most Americans are not comfortable with the idea of traveling to places already affected by Zika, particularly if it means travel abroad. Three in four Americans would not be comfortable traveling to a foreign country that was affected by Zika, including just over half who would not be comfortable at all. Americans are a little more agreeable to the idea of visiting an area within the U.S. affected by an outbreak of Zika (currently just one neighborhood in Miami, Florida), though 58 percent would still not be comfortable traveling there.


This poll was conducted by telephone August 10-14, 2016 among a random sample of 1,002 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers.

The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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