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Germans fear bird flu PDF Print E-mail
Written by GFK   
28 Feb 2006

Germans fear bird flu

Current consumer survey by GfK HealthCare

Nuremberg, March 1, 2006 - While German politicians and experts are still debating suitable measures to combat the spread of avian flu, German consumers are already in fear of a pandemic. Most of them believe that the virus could be passed from wild birds to domestic poultry and then on to human beings. One in five Germans even worries about getting bird flu. These are the results of the latest consumer survey carried out by GfK HealthCare.

Just over two weeks after the first confirmed case of avian flu on the island of Rügen off the North German coast, the H5N1 virus has already spread to five of Germany's federal states. Unlike in France, however, it has killed only wild birds up to now. Nevertheless, 77% of Germans believe that it will not be long until bird flu hits German domestic poultry. And it is not only politicians and experts who are divided as to what the response to this should be: at 54%, just over half of German consumers believe that mass precautionary culling is the answer, while 46% are against it.

Transfer to human beings anticipated

Germans do not believe that bird flu is likely to remain a purely animal pandemic and 71% of those surveyed said they could even envisage the virus passing to human beings in Germany. 19% even fear that they themselves might catch bird flu. By way of a precaution, some 14% have already asked their doctors to prescribe a suitable medication or intend to do so very shortly. 18% of Germans intend to obtain protective masks, face masks and gloves or have already bought them.

Consumers believe they are well informed

The majority of the population is convinced that they are well informed about bird flu. 85% of Germans maintain that they would know exactly what to do if they found a dead wild bird and 67% claim to know of suitable preventive measures, with 59% believing they are well enough informed about the disease. In addition to media reporting, consumers are keen on obtaining information for themselves and consequently, one in five, or 21%, has already consulted a doctor, pharmacist, health official, disaster protection authorities or the fire service on the subject of possible precautions against avian flu.

Package of precautionary measures announced by the government regarded as inadequate

Deploying the forces in the fight against the H5N1 virus or perhaps eliciting their support in collecting dead birds on Rügen is regarded as justified by around 90% of those surveyed. However, Germans are more critical about the other actions taken by the authorities. Only 34% believe that advance planning is as good as possible in Germany and only 38% think that the "Land" authority stocks of anti-bird flu medication - enough for roughly one fifth of the population - are adequate. 35% of Germans even accuse politicians of having been overtaken by complete surprise at the advent of bird flu.

The show must go on - World Cup goes ahead

Despite their fears and concerns, the vast majority of Germans are determined not to be undermined by bird flu. Delight at the prospect of the World Cup in summer 2006 remains unabated and 77% of those surveyed insist that the FIFA Football World Cup should go ahead, even if the virus passes to domestic animals in Germany. This is a view expressed by both sexes, with 86% of men holding this opinion and 68% of women agreeing.

The survey

The findings are taken from a national representative telephone survey of 509 respondents carried out by GfK HealthCare. The interviews took place on February 24 and 25, 2006.

The GfK Group

The GfK Group is the No. 5 market research organization worldwide. Its activities cover five business divisions, Custom Research, Retail & Technology, Consumer Tracking, Media and HealthCare. In addition to 13 German subsidiaries, the company has over 130 subsidiaries located in 63 countries. Of a current total of around 7,500 employees, approx. 80% are based outside Germany. For further information, visit our website:


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