Poll: 26 percent of Americans believe they will get Ebola

The Ebola virus can only be transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids and only those showing symptoms are contagious.
By Aileen Graef  |  Aug. 26, 2014 at 1:59 PM
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BOSTON, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A new poll from Harvard University shows Americans know little about the Ebola virus and a significant number fear a large outbreak in the United States.

Ebola has remained in West Africa, but Americans are fearing it will hit closer to home. Thirty-nine percent of Americans fear there will be a large outbreak in the United States and 26 percent are concerned they or an immediate family member will contract the virus.

There is a correlation between the level of education and the level of concern. More educated people were less likely to fear an Ebola outbreak or infection than their less educated peers.

"Even though your stories may have included the fact that you have to have open sore or direct bodily contact to catch it, that is not the headline to most people here. We have lazy brains. We don't want to think about things in a lot of detail," David Ropeik, a risk perception consultant told NBC News. "We just don't do all the homework. We never do."

The disease can only be transmitted through an exchange of bodily fluids and only those showing symptoms are contagious. Some of the factors contributing to the rapid outbreak in Africa are poor medical facilities and lack of infrastructure.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said the Ebola virus poses a very low risk to the U.S. The CDC attributes this to its quarantine procedures, the advanced health care system in the U.S. and the procedures in place to respond to any sign of infection.

There were two Americans who were infected while working in Liberia, but they were transported to the U.S. under secure and quarantined conditions before they were treated with the ZMapp experimental drug. They have both been discharged and the CDC assures that they are no longer a danger to the public.

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