Poll: 45% Worry That They or a Family Member Could Contract Ebola

Image: A nurse arriving from Dayton, Ohio, and concerned about Ebola reports, wears a precautionary surgical mask at Dulles International Airport
Twilette Miller, a nurse arriving from Dayton, Ohio, and concerned about Ebola reports, wears a precautionary surgical mask at Dulles International Airport October 16, 2014, in Sterling, Virginia, outside Washington, DC. Some schools in Ohio and Texas closed Thursday amid fears that students or staff had been exposed to a nurse who had Ebola infection during an airline flight. The US Centers for Disease Control has reached out to 132 people who were on the same October 13 flight as Amber Vinson, but said there was an extremely low risk that anyone was infected. PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP - Getty Images

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Forty-five percent of Americans are concerned that they or a family member will contract Ebola, and a majority – 63 percent – are worried that the U.S. will see a large number of Ebola cases in the next year, according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

According to the poll, a quarter of Americans say they are “very” worried about Ebola affecting them or their families, while an additional 21 percent say they are “somewhat” concerned.

Three people have been diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, and an additional five people who were infected in West Africa have been treated here.

Some of that fear appears to stem from confusion about how Ebola is spread. About one in four respondents – 37 percent – incorrectly believe that a person can be infected with Ebola by shaking hands with someone who has been exposed to the virus but does not have symptoms; an additional eight percent said they weren’t sure. A quarter said that Ebola can definitely be transmitted through the air.

Americans are also split on whether the United States is doing enough to address the Ebola threat. About half of Americans – 48 percent – say the government is doing enough to protect Americans from Ebola, while 44 percent disagree.

Forty percent say that the U.S. should do more to deal with the outbreak in West Africa, compared to 45 percent who say the country is doing enough.

The public does appear to have more confidence in medical authorities charged with preventing the disease from spreading. A majority of adults say they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the ability of their local hospitals (64 percent), their state or local health department (62 percent) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (73 percent) to contain a case of Ebola diagnosed near where they live.

And most Americans are satisfied with the amount of time the American media has spent covering Ebola in the U.S. Fifty-six percent said the press has covered it “the right amount,” while 23 percent said there had been too much media focus on the virus and 17 percent said there has not been enough coverage.

The survey of 1,503 adults was conducted October 8-14, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 3.0 percent.