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Survey: Americans fear Ebola outbreak, trust feds to work it out

An NBC News survey conducted by SurveyMonkey shows that 51% of respondents worry that there will be an outbreak of the deadly virus in the United States.
A possible Ebola patient is brought to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on October 8, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.
A possible Ebola patient is brought to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on October 8, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.

While most Americans worry about an Ebola outbreak occurring in the United States, most also believe that they and their families are all-but immune to the deadly disease. That's according to a new NBC News survey conducted by SurveyMonkey in which 51% of respondents said they are worried about a domestic outbreak, but only 30% said they're concerned it will affect them or their families.

Perhaps that's because they trust the Obama administration to handle it. Of those surveyed, 54% expressed at least a fair amount of confidence in the federal government to prevent a major Ebola outbreak on domestic soil. Similarly, most respondents expressed confidence in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (76%), the National Institutes of Health (64%), the World Health Organization (64%), and their state's health department (62%). Trust at the local level skewed just a bit lower, with 56% expressing trust in that arena.

Most respondents (60%) favor America ramping up its efforts to prevent the virus from spreading. However, when asked the same question ("Should the United States take a more active role, a less active role, or continue its current level of activity in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus?") with regard to preventing the virus from spreading in Africa, just 46% of respondents support a more active role than the current status quo. Similarly, most polled (51%) disapprove of the decision to send U.S. troops to Africa to help stop Ebola from spreading, with just 25% approving and about the same (24%) saying they aren't sure.

The U.S. is sending up to 4,000 military personnel to West Africa as part of a mission to stop the disease’s deadly march.

Finally, the survey indicates that respondents believe (58%) the U.S. should create a travel ban on flights from countries where the virus has broken out, and that the U.S. should start screening passengers for Ebola at U.S. airports (73%).

Ebola is a serious virus that has so far claimed the lives of more than 3,400 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Five Americans have contracted Ebola while working in West Africa, whereupon they were promptly brought back to the U.S. for treatment. No American has died of the disease yet. 

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died Wednesday in Texas, eight days after the CDC confirmed his case. The 42-year-old Liberian resident arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 to visit family, days after he assisted a pregnant neighbor who later died of Ebola.

The survey was conducted on Tuesday, Oct. 7 -- prior to Duncan's death -- among 1,010 U.S. adults with a bootstrapped confidence interval of +/- 4.6% percentage points.

Additional reporting by Emma Margolin.