SAINT LEO, FL – U.S. and Florida residents say they are concerned about the Zika virus, according to a new Saint Leo University Poll conducted online June 10 through June 16.

In April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced the Zika virus, which is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquito, was found in 30 states. The virus can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. The CDC confirmed, and it has been widely reported, that the virus is responsible for severe defects, including microcephaly, in unborn children. When delivered, such babies have abnormally small heads and often have brain defects.

The Saint Leo poll asked: “How concerned would you say you are about the virus?” Nearly three-quarters, or 73 percent of the 1,001 U.S. respondents, say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the virus.

In Florida, among 500 surveyed, 71.2 percent agree with that level of concern. On June 24, the confirmed travel-related Zika virus cases in Florida rose to 220 with seven new cases reported by the Florida Department of Health.

The CDC also reports that men infected with the virus people can pass it along through sexual contact.

“There is a lot of ‘I don’t know,’ and ‘I’m not sure,’ with this virus,” said Dr. Cheryl Clauson, Saint Leo University assistant professor of biology.

Consequently, there is concern about athletes and fans traveling to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, which has seen people infected through mosquito bites. There is confusion as to the safety of travel, as well.

“WHO [World Health Organization] says the Olympics will be fine,” Clauson said. “A hundred prominent physicians said that they disagreed in their open letter to the WHO.”

While the virus itself is not so terrible, Clauson continued, the symptoms can be flu-like, athletes could be impaired. “But more importantly, if you have family members who are pregnant, they may not want to attend,” Clauson said.

Notably, NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie, who had originally planned to be part of her network’s reporting team in Rio, announced June 7 that she had changed plans. She is pregnant, so will not go to Rio, she announced, but will instead stay in the United States.

The Saint Leo poll showed 38.6 percent say the Summer Olympics should go on in Brazil as planned, despite health concerns in the country.

More About Our Research

METHODOLOGY: All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll sampled opinion of 1,001 adults and has a plus or minus 3.0 percent margin of error. The Florida poll of 500 adults has a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of error.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a regionally accredited, liberal-arts-based institution known for an inclusive Catholic heritage, enduring values, and a capacity for innovation. The school was chartered in 1889 by Catholic Benedictine monks in rural Pasco County, FL, making Saint Leo the first Catholic college in the state. Saint Leo provides access to education to people of all faiths, emphasizing the Benedictine philosophy of balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit.

The university welcomes learners from all generations and backgrounds, from civilian occupations and the armed forces, and from across the country and more than 60 nations around the world. Saint Leo’s nearly 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students may elect to study at the beautiful University Campus in Florida, at more than 40 teaching locations in seven states, or online from any location. The university’s degree programs range from the associate to the doctorate. Through these rich offerings, Saint Leo develops principled leaders for a challenging world.

Saint Leo University boasts nearly 80,000 alumni in all 50 states, Washington, DC, five U.S. territories, and 72 countries.

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text)
or Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text)