Poll: Most Americans confident in CDC to handle Ebola

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The majority of Americans have confidence in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to contain the spread of the Ebola virus within the United States, according to a new survey.

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The poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found 73 percent of Americans said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the CDC to control the virus. That was true across party lines: 70 percent of Republicans said that they were confident in the CDC, as did 79 percent of Democrats.

The poll was completed prior to Wednesday’s reports that a second nurse who had treated the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. had been infected. It also preceded reports that the CDC had permitted that nurse to fly despite the fact that she had a low-grade fever.

There are slightly lower levels of confidence in local hospitals and health departments to handle infections, however.

More broadly, Americans remain confident that there will not be a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States.

Almost three-quarters of Americans said that any outbreak of the Ebola virus in the United States would likely be contained to a small number of cases, according to the survey. Just less than half of respondents were concerned that a family member or someone else they know would be infected by the virus.

The survey revealed, however, that many Americans remain in the dark about aspects of the disease and its communicability despite significant news coverage of the virus. Individuals infected with the virus are only contagious when they are showing symptoms of the disease, say officials, who add that Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids — like sweat or blood — and is not airborne.

Sixty-six percent of Americans knew that Ebola is not airborne, the poll found. Twenty-five percent believed it can be transmitted through the air, while 9 percent said they did not know. Close to half incorrectly said that someone who was not showing symptoms could transmit the disease.

The poll was released as an increasing number of lawmakers are questioning the administration’s ability to handle the outbreak.

Many have called for a ban on flights coming from the West African countries where the virus is most widespread. A few Republicans have also called for the resignation of the CDC’s director, Dr. Tom Frieden. Frieden is scheduled to testify before a House subcommittee about the response to the virus on Thursday.

The poll was based on interviews conducted by phone in English and Spanish from Oct. 8 through Oct. 14. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.