In US, Fear of Ebola Spreads Faster than Virus

    24 October, 2014

    For Americans, Ebola started out as a disease in a far-away continent. But then a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, died from Ebola at a hospital in Dallas, Texas. And two nurses caring for him became infected with the virus. This showed Americans that Ebola had come to the United States.

    One of the nurses was moved from Dallas to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Anthony Fauci is a top official with the NIH.

    "We fully intend to have this patient walk out of this hospital. And we'll do everything we possibly can to make that happen."

    In US, Fear of Ebola Spreads Faster than Virus
    Dr. Anthony Fauci hugs Nina Pham as she's discharged from the National Institutes of Health, Oct. 24, 2014.

    A group called National Nurses United represents U.S. healthcare workers. The labor union has called for better training and equipment for workers who may treat Ebola patients. Melinda Markowitz is the union's vice president. She says her group has been asking for better preparation since the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa in March.

    President Barack Obama hugs Dallas nurse Nina Pham as her mother Diane looks on, Oval Office, Washington, Oct. 24, 2014.

    Top American doctors have repeatedly said that most people have little chance of being infected. Experts have stated that Ebola can only be spread through contact with an infected person's body fluids -- like blood. But it appears many Americans are questioning what they have heard.

    A recent survey found more than 80 percent of Americans believe that Ebola can be spread in many ways, including air expelled through the nose or mouth. The Harvard School of Public Health released the findings. The study also showed that most adults fear there will be a sudden spread -- or outbreak -- of Ebola in the United States in the next 12 months.

    Another survey found that more than 70 percent of Americans would support calls to ban travel to and from Ebola-affected parts of Africa. The questioning was completed shortly after the death of Mr. Duncan. This survey was a project of the Reuters news service and the market research company Ipsos.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden

    Thomas Frieden heads the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He spoke at a congressional hearing last week. When asked whether federal officials had considered a travel ban, Mr. Frieden had this to say:

    "Borders can be porous. We won't be able to check them for fever when they leave. We won't be able to check them for fever when they arrive. We won't be able, as we do currently, to take a detailed history to see if they were exposed when they arrive. When they arrive, we wouldn't be able to impose quarantine as we now can if they have high-risk contact."

    Last week, President Barack Obama named Ron Klain to lead U.S. efforts in fighting the Ebola crisis. In his weekly radio broadcast, the president urged Americans not to give in to what he called "hysteria or fear."

    Many Republican Party activists -- and even some Democrats -- have urged the Obama administration to bar non-US citizens from parts of West Africa. This week, the administration announced that all travelers arriving in the United States from some African nations are required to pass through one of five airports. All five will provide expanded testing for Ebola.

    Late this week, U.S. officials reported another case of the disease. They said that tests show a New York City doctor has the virus. The doctor recently treated Ebola patients in Guinea.

    I'm Christopher Cruise.


    Words in This Story

    infected v. made sick with something that causes disease

    virusn. a kind of organism that causes disease

    patientn. a person being treated by a doctor for a health problem

    contact n. the act of touching or being close to a person or thing

    fluids n. substances that can flow, such as a liquid

    outbreak n. a sudden start or increase of fighting or disease

    porous adj. easy to pass or get through

    quarantine n. the period of time during which an infected person or animal is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading; also the time during which a person or animal that might have a disease is kept away from others

    hysterian. a state in which your emotions are so strong that you behave in an uncontrolled way

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