Health & Medicine

Most Kentuckians don’t think country is prepared to deal with Ebola, poll shows

FRANKFORT – Most Kentuckians do not think America is prepared to deal with a widespread outbreak of the Ebola virus, a new poll shows.

Thirty-five percent of Kentuckians believe the country is not very prepared and 18 percent say not at all, shows the Bluegrass Poll.

Only 9 percent think the U.S. is very prepared and 34 percent say somewhat. Three percent was not sure.

The poll figures are similar to a national poll SurveyUSA released Oct. 16. It found that 73 percent of adults in the United States say America is not prepared for a large outbreak of the virus.

Fears about the Ebola virus are spreading faster in this country than the virus itself.

As of Oct. 29, the World Health Organization reported 13,703 Ebola cases in the world, with 4,922 deaths. Most of this has occurred in West Africa.

Meanwhile, two imported cases, including one death, and two acquired cases in American health care workers in Texas have been reported in this country, says the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.

The CDC is working with other U.S. government agencies and the World Health Organization to curb the disease.

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield, told about the poll results, said Kentucky's health community has prepared to respond to any potential cases of Ebola.

"The Kentucky Department for Public Health has been leading multiple Ebola preparedness efforts to enhance readiness across the health care and public health community to identify, diagnose, isolate, treat and contain any possible cases of Ebola as quickly and safely as possible," she said.

But Stewart Heitzman of Jefferson County, who works in cable television, does not think America is ready for the virus.

"If you've seen the news, you would see all the mistakes that have been made so far in dealing with the virus," he said. "You can just think of the mess if it ever got widespread."

Bob Simmons, a consultant for the city of Madisonville and the community college in the city, thinks people are "overreacting" to the media reports.

"It's a deadly but not very contagious disease," he said. "So far, this country has managed the disease and kept its infection rate quite low. We know how to deal with it. We just have to put it in practice and keep calm."

In the latest poll, respondents with higher education and salaries seemed more confident that America could handle an Ebola epidemic.

Twenty-two percent of respondents in Eastern Kentucky said the country was not at all ready for an epidemic, while 14 percent of them in Louisville had such a negative view.

The Bluegrass Poll, sponsored by the Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV in Lexington and The Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV in Louisville, was conducted Oct. 25 to 29 by SurveyUSA with 704 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.