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What If? Americans Worry About Ebola in U.S.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Nearly half of Americans think it's likely Ebola will get into the U.S. population now that two patients will be receiving treatment in the United States, but most have some degree of confidence that the U.S. health care system will be able to contain the deadly disease - and eventually produce a vaccine to combat it.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 58% of U.S. Adults are at least somewhat concerned personally about the threat of Ebola disease which has now killed over 800 people in the latest outbreak in West Africa. Thirty-eight percent (38%) don't share that concern. This includes 18% who are Very Concerned about the disease and nine percent (9%) who are Not At All Concerned. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

That’s less concern than Americans expressed about the West Nile virus during its small outbreak in the United States in 2012. Sixty-five percent (65%) were personally concerned about swine flu in 2009.

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest in history. One infected U.S. aid worker has already been flown into the United States to be treated in an isolation ward at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, with another aid worker scheduled to enter the country this week. Forty-six percent (46%) of adults think it is at least somewhat likely that Ebola will get into the general population of the United States, but just as many (47%) say that’s unlikely. This includes 16% who say Ebola is Very Likely to enter the U.S. population and 11% who say that’s Not At All Likely.

If the disease does break out in the United States, 55% are confident that the U.S. public health system will be able to contain it, but that includes just 18% who are Very Confident. Thirty-eight percent (38%) are not confident the public health system will be able to contain the disease, with 11% who are Not At All Confident.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of adults think it’s at least somewhat likely that a vaccine for Ebola will be developed in the next 10 years, including 18% who say that is Very Likely. Twenty-eight percent (28%) see such an accomplishment as unlikely, but only seven percent (7%) say it’s Not At All Likely. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on August 1-2, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

While there is concern about the disease, 48% of Americans believe the media tend to make the outbreak of such diseases sound worse than they really are. Twenty-nine percent (29%) disagree, while 23% are not sure.

Women are more likely than men to think it’s possible Ebola could spread to the general U.S. population and are slightly less confident that the public health system will be able to contain it. But then 55% of men think the media overhype such diseases, compared to 42% of women who feel that way.

Adults under 40 are less personally concerned about the threat of the disease than their elders are and are slightly more likely to believe the media overhype diseases like Ebola. But younger adults are no more confident than their elders that the public health system will be able to deal with Ebola if it spreads to the U.S. population.

Americans who are personally concerned about the disease are far more likely to think it is coming to the United States than those who are not concerned about it. Only those who are Very Concerned, though, have major doubts about the U.S. public health system's ability to deal with the disease should there be an outbreak in this country.

Adults who think it’s unlikely Ebola will spread in the United States are more likely to think that the media overhype the outbreak of such diseases.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of all adults are following recent news reports about the Ebola epidemic in Africa at least somewhat closely, with 30% who are following Very Closely.

Just 31% of all voters rate the current health care system as good or excellent, but 79% describe the overall quality of care they now receive as good or excellent

Eighty-three percent (83%) of Americans visit the doctor at least once a year

A plurality (46%) of Americans believes the U.S. government spends too little when it comes to funding medical research. Sixteen percent (16%) feel the government spends too much on medical research, while 18% consider the amount spent to about right.  Americans rank cancer as the worst disease they face in this country.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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