Ebola Survey Shows Differing Attitudes About Quarantines

Ebola Survey: Majority Support Quarantines, Including 56 Percent Of Doctors

A new Ebola survey commissioned by WebMD/Medscape shows that a majority of Americans find it reasonable to quarantine people traveling into the United States from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, the three most heavily hit countries in the current outbreak.

Out of the respondents in the online survey, 57 percent said yes, it was reasonable, and they were joined by 56 percent of doctors surveyed.

Four in five feared the risk of an infection to doctors and nurses who were returning from West Africa to the United States, though most did not believe they would get the disease themselves.

“The Ebola risk to the general public is very low, and most people seem to be aware of that,” said Michael W. Smith, MD, WebMD chief medical editor.

However, an outbreak in Ebola cases among health care workers returning to the U.S. have raised public concerns, he said.

Also, most people are starting to question how “difficult” it is to catch Ebola, given the infections of workers like Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson while dealing with Thomas Eric Duncan, patient zero in the U.S., who died in October from the disease after being mishandled by the Texas hospital where he first went to the emergency room.

Since that time, the subject of mandatory Ebola quarantines has come up often with President Obama repeatedly encouraging a laxer monitoring effort than states where the cases are appearing.

Most recently, a nurse who had developed a fever shortly after returning to the U.S. from West Africa was placed in mandatory quarantine after she had tested negative for the virus.

Kaci Hickox defied the mandate from states, and on Thursday, a judge agreed with her, though the majority of Americans have not.

The thinking, voiced here by Piers Morgan, is why would you risk it, especially when there is so little we know about the disease and people in Hazmat suits are getting it?

Nevertheless, Hickox won her case and is now free to come and go as she pleases. President Obama has also been against the stringent state quarantine policies and the issuance of an Ebola travel ban.

Australia and Canada, however, have both instituted travel bans from the affected areas, so if as the President says, they don’t work, the world should know soon enough by watching those cases.

As for the rest of the WebMD survey, check out the full results here.

Do you share the outlooks in the Ebola survey? Should quarantines be mandatory for all persons traveling out of West Africa?

[Image via ShutterStock]

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