Introduction: On March 2006, 298,000 cases of birds infected with bird flu were destroyed in nine rural settlements
in Israel, out of a total of 1.2 million birds that were destroyed within these settlements and in a radius of 3 km. The
population was instructed to take precautionary measures to prevent a disease outbreak. The sense of knowledge of the
population concerning the disease correlated with compliance with authorities' instructions.
Objectives: To analyze the relationships between the sources of information, and public emotions and interest in avian influenza
with the sense of knowledge concerning the disease in the affected area and the nationwide population, during the
first phase of a bird flu outbreak in Israel.
Methods: We conducted a telephone survey among two randomly selected, representative samples of adults, during the
first phase of a bird flu outbreak. One sample involved 500 adult residents of the nationwide area; and the other sample
involved 103 adult residents of the affected area. We measured the use of mass media, emotions, interest, and sense of
knowledge of the population concerning avian influenza. We analyzed the relationships between the sources of information
and public emotions with the sense of knowledge using chi-square and t-tests. A P value of < 0.05 was considered to
be statistically significant.
Conclusion: The use of the internet as a source of information, combined with a high level of interest and low levels of
stress correlated with a high sense of knowledge concerning avian influenza during the early phase of an avian influenza
outbreak in Israel. Authorities should consider these findings when planning the strategy of mass media use, in order to
increase the public’s sense of knowledge concerning the disease and to enhance control of the disease outbreak by improving
the compliance of the population with the authorities' instructions.