LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Nearly half of Americans are so concerned about the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa and infected two U.S. nurses who treated a Liberian Ebola victim in Texas that they are avoiding international air travel, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Thursday.
The poll results come as health officials said the second nurse infected at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas had flown from Ohio to Texas with a slight fever the day before she was diagnosed.
Amber Vinson, 29, was isolated immediately after reporting a fever on Tuesday, Texas Department of State Health Services officials said. She had treated Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola and was the first patient diagnosed with the virus in the United States.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll, which surveyed 1,577 Americans 18 or older online, found nearly 80 percent were concerned about the Ebola outbreak, with 41 percent saying they were “very concerned” and 36 percent “somewhat concerned.”
Only 19 percent of those surveyed said they were unconcerned by the epidemic, which has killed at least 4,493 people, predominantly in West Africa, in the worst Ebola outbreak since the disease was identified in 1976.
Cases of the virus, which can cause fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea, have been limited in the United States and Europe.
Asked which precautions they were taking in light of the Ebola epidemic, 45 percent of respondents said they were avoiding international air travel. Additionally, 57 percent said they were washing their hands more frequently and 47 percent said they were avoiding individuals who recently traveled to Africa.
“I had plans to go to California in the winter but if Ebola is spreading (in the United States), I will not go,” poll respondent Deena Greenebaum, 68, said in an interview. “I will not go to the casinos, I will not go anywhere public. I will stay in my house in New Jersey.”
Greenebaum said her friends and relatives shared those sentiments, adding: “A friend of mine just canceled a trip to Paris. Nobody I know is traveling internationally. Nobody wants to go anywhere.”
Among those surveyed, 79 percent said that if there were an outbreak of Ebola in the United States, they would be very or somewhat likely to avoid international air travel.
A statement from the CDC and Frontier Airlines said Vinson flew out of Dallas/Fort Worth on Friday and returned on Frontier Flight 1143 on Monday.
U.S. airline stocks tumbled again on Wednesday on renewed fears of a drop-off in air travel. Ebola fears also contributed to a nearly 2 percent drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was under pressure from global economic concerns.
The poll, which was conducted between Friday and Wednesday, has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney