This is a periodic survey of the Austrian population with year-specific focuses on risk perception. Due to the current Corona pandemic, the focus of the Risk Barometer 2020 was on the topic of pathogens and was conducted without the involvement of the Risk Dialogue for reasons related to the topic.
The current survey shows that concern has risen sharply on the topic of human epidemics and animal diseases and is currently at the top of the concern list, together with the topic of climate change. The issue of environmental pollution continues to worry a large proportion of Austrians. The topics of energy supply, nutritional quality and supply and food safety, on the other hand, are judged to be less worrying, as in recent years.
Of the 26 pathogens surveyed, SARS-CoV-2, Borrelia and the TBE virus are the most worrying. With regard to the assessment of the risk of contracting the disease, Austrians consider infection with the influenza virus, SARS-CoV-2 and Borrelia most likely. Chikungunya, West Nile and Usutu viruses are of least concern.
Respondents feel most informed about SARS-CoV-2, influenza virus, and TBE virus. The lowest level of information is for Chikungunya, Usutu, and West Nile virus. The main sources of information used on the subject of pathogens are television, daily newspapers and magazines, and physicians. People who are concerned about pathogens mainly obtain information via the social media platforms Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
A detailed examination of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza shows that risk perception is significantly higher for SARS-CoV-2 than for influenza, but risk assessment of contracting either pathogen is slightly higher for influenza than for SARS-CoV-2.
The assessment of the risk of contracting foodborne pathogens is relatively low in Austria. The level of information about pathogens that can cause foodborne disease outbreaks is also low, with the exception of salmonella, and will require more awareness among the population in the future.