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Pat Yourself on the Back, America: The U.S. Is Not Freaking Out About Ebola (For the Most Part)

Poll numbers show most Americans aren’t succumbing to the fear over Ebola

(Amer Ghazzal/Demotix/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

The breathless expositions from some politicians and media outlets might leave the impression that Ebola is a direct threat to the health and safety of Americans. At any moment someone might get off a plane and infect us all—a doomsday epidemic of an incurable disease!!!

But even if some people are reacting with irrational fear (or calculated political maneuvers), a new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News suggests that, when it comes to Ebola, Americans have (mostly) got their heads on straight. Good job!

According to the poll, most Americans, some 63 percent, are either “not too worried” or “not worried at all” that they or someone in their immediate family might catch the virus. It's unlikely that the other 37 percent of Americans are planning to go to West Africa soon, or have a family member living there now—so they probably shouldn't be worried, either. But a 63 percent cool-and-collected citizenship is not too shabby.

The poll largely echoes an earlier one conducted by the Pew Research Center that found that 32 percent of those polled are either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that they or someone they know will be exposed to the virus.

At odds with widespread scientific perspective, however, 60 percent of those polled also are either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” that there could been a widespread Ebola outbreak in the U.S. So, there's some PR work for health professionals to do yet. Overall, though, says the Washington Post, the poll suggests that “fears among Americans about the Ebola virus appear to be waning.”

Maybe if we can all calm down on this side of the Atlantic, focus can get back to where it should be: West Africa, where the outbreak just hit 13,703 official cases.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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