Consumer awareness of animal diseases measured

Purdue researchers study looks at how well-versed consumers are with prominent animal diseases.

In an effort to determine how well-versed consumers are with prominent animal diseases, Purdue University researchers Elizabeth Byrd, Nicole Widmar and John Lee conducted a study.

Specifically they looked at bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), porcine epidemic virus diarrhea (PEDv), tuberculosis (TB), chronic wasting disease (CWD), leptospirosis, rabies and food and mouth disease (FMD) and found that 30% of respondents had heard of BSE, 17% heard of PEDv and 27% heard of CWD.

Various demographic factors were found, through cross tabulations, to be associated with the awareness of animal diseases.

Being a college graduate, someone who regularly hunts, a pet owner, or a member of an animal welfare activist group were all positively correlated with having heard of BSE, PEDv and leptospirosis. Reporting concern for the welfare of beef cattle, dairy cattle or pigs was positively correlated with being aware of all diseases analyzed.

Visiting a dairy or pig farm in the past five years was positively associated with awareness of BSE, PED-v, CWD and leptospirosis. Consumers who raise their own food, either through gardening, raising chickens for eggs or meat, or raising animals for meat, were more likely to be aware of BSE and PEDv. Related to disease awareness was inspection; respondents were asked about veterinary inspection for transport. Sixty-eight percent of respondents agreed that livestock should be required to undergo a veterinary inspection before being transported within or outside the state.

Likewise, 75% of U.S. consumers who were aware of BSE agree that beef carcasses should be tested for BSE before being used for human food consumption. Consumer awareness and sensitivity to animal disease/health issues is important for animal industry communication aimed at ensuring consumer confidence in the food they choose to purchase, the researchers reported at the 2015 Joint Annual Meeting in Orlando.

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