Background: The first ever outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Nigeria was declared in July, 2014. Level of public knowledge, perception and adequacy of information on EVD were unknown. We assessed the public preparedness level to adopt disease preventive behavior which is premised on appropriate knowledge, perception and adequate information.
Methods: We enrolled 5,322 respondents in a community-based cross-sectional study. We used interviewer-administered questionnaire to collect data on socio-demographic characteristics, EVD–related knowledge, perception and source of information. We performed univariate and bivariate data analysis using Epi-Info software setting p-value of 0.05 as cut-off for statistical significance.
Results: Mean age of respondents was 34 years (± 11.4 years), 52.3% were males. Forty one percent possessed satisfactory general knowledge; 44% and 43.1% possessed satisfactory knowledge on mode of spread and preventive measures, respectively. Residing in EVD cases districts, male respondents and possessing at least secondary education were positively associated with satisfactory general knowledge (p-value: 0.01, 0.001 and 0.000004, respectively). Seventy one percent perceived EVD as a public health problem while 61% believed they cannot contract the disease. Sixty two percent and 64% of respondents will not shake hands and hug a successfully treated EVD patient respectively. Only 2.2% of respondents practice good hand-washing practice. Television (68.8%) and radio (55.0%) are the most common sources of information on EVD.
Conclusions: Gaps in EVD-related knowledge and perception exist. Targeted public health messages to raise knowledge level, correct misconception and discourage stigmatization should be widely disseminated, with television and radio as media of choice.