Poll: Most believe Ebola spreads by sneeze, cough

Most people in the U.S. believe Ebola can be transmitted through a sneeze or cough, according to a new poll.

(Spoiler: Ebola is not spread through sneezing or coughing.)

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a poll on Ebola earlier this month.

The poll found most people (81 percent) believe Ebola is likely spread from person sick with the disease and showing symptoms. Nearly all of the respondents (95 percent) agree that a person is likely to get Ebola if they come into contact with bodily fluids of a symptomatic person.

About 85 percent of people said someone would be likely to get Ebola if a symptomatic person sneezed or coughed on them, according to the poll.

“These data suggest that the public currently sees Ebola as likely spread by multiple routes, including one that the World Health Organization (WHO) has said is not likely – sneezing and coughing,” the researchers said.

The poll conducted by Harvard researchers also found that more than half of adults (52 percent) believe there will be a large Ebola outbreak inside the U.S. within the next year.

Nearly 40 percent of people are concerned that they or someone in their immediate family will get sick with Ebola in the next year, according to the poll.

But, according to the poll, most people in the U.S. (80 percent) think someone in their community would likely survive Ebola if they received immediate medical care.

In an attempt to counter some of the misconceptions, here is some factual information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about Ebola.

Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth) with:

-blood or body fluids, such as urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk and semen, of a person who is sick with Ebola.

-objects, such as needles and syringes, that have been contaminated with the virus.

-infected animals.

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food, according to the CDC.

There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola virus; only mammals have shown the ability to become infected, according to the CDC.

“Health care providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients,” according to the CDC.

Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus, according to the CDC.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

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