75% of Doctors Support Travel Ban from West Africa According to SERMO Poll

Physicians are concerned about the CDC's and Department of Homeland Security's Ability to Track and Screen Ebola Patients within the United States

Oct 13, 2014, 11:15 ET from SERMO

BOSTON, Oct. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- SERMO, the leading social network of fully verified, licensed physicians in the U.S., announced today the results of recent polling of the SERMO physician community about the Ebola epidemic and its implications for the United States.

When asked if they believe all travel from West Africa should be halted to the US, 75% of the respondents chose "Yes." The poll questions also highlight concerns many physicians have about the U.S. preparedness level of the healthcare system to handle Ebola.

The SERMO community of over 270,000 doctors is actively discussing the latest developments in the Ebola crisis on their Infectious Disease Hub. The core issue is preparedness from the perspective of an already stressed frontline medical infrastructure.  Public health preparedness is one side of the story, and some question CDC's preparedness.  

But from the perspective of medical preparedness, the country's medical community has been clear: they do not feel prepared, and they need the federal government to listen to that concern.  Dallas is an example, but there will likely be others unless a change in screening protocols is adopted that go beyond simply checking temperatures at a few Ports of Entry. Some feel a better solution is to deny granting access to non-US citizens from the Ebola-affected areas of Africa through the State Department's Visa granting process until true epidemic containment has been achieved.

Over 3000 doctors joined the conversation, and 1,300 of our SERMO physicians participated in our poll and provided some eyebrow-raising opinions:

  • When asked if they feel the Department of Homeland Security is adequately screening inbound passengers from Ebola-affected areas, 91% said "No."
  • When asked if they believe the US Department of State is adequately sharing information regarding the Visa granting process and the specific location of where travelers are arriving from in West Africa, 90% answered "No."
  • When asked if they believe the experience of Dallas will significantly alter our medical preparedness writ large in America, 56% responded "No."

In a prior poll focusing on preparedness and the logic of focusing on contact tracing (tracking down everyone a patient has had contact with), over 370 physicians spoke up:

  • When asked how confident they are in the CDC's ability to effectively trace back contacts Ebola patients might have had with other people, 57% did not feel confident (37% said "not very confident" and another 20% said "not confident at all").
  • When asked if they had been in conversation about preparedness protocols regarding Ebola, 32% said "no one" and 31% said they'd "self-educated to prepare."
  • When asked where they are getting their guidance and reliable information regarding Ebola, 58% cited the CDC and 52% cited their peers on SERMO.

A SERMO member and contributor, Vice President of Ascel Bio and an infectious disease forecaster, Dr. James Wilson, MD, commented on the Dallas Ebola situation, "Dallas is giving the entire world a form of proof of just how infectious Ebola is. It's important to note the virus introduced to Dallas has likely mutated well beyond the initially disclosed 'hundreds of mutations.' So, pay attention people; Dallas has a mutated Ebola virus in the middle of its urban medical infrastructure, and yet here at Day 18, we have only one contact (a nurse) become symptomatic.  None of the family members have become symptomatic.  This is a key observation since the incubation period of Ebola is typically 7 to 10 days."

"The results of our latest survey show some eye-opening results," said Peter Kirk, CEO of SERMO. "With the recent case of the Dallas patient arriving from Liberia and reports of a nurse in Spain testing positive for the virus, the concern over Ebola is expanding globally. The discussion and survey results on SERMO reflect considerable anxiety within the US healthcare community as to the gaps in health screening and the risk posed by allowing travelers to come from West Africa. Physicians are speaking out...  We should listen."

For more information about the recent developments in the Ebola crisis, visit the SERMO blog at http://blog.sermo.com.  


SERMO is the United States' leading social network for doctors. Founded in 2005, SERMO's mission is to provide physicians with a safe, private and trusted platform for free and open discussions.

SERMO is a doctors' 'lounge' where doctors candidly share their true feelings about their profession and lives, but it's also a place where doctors learn from one another by asking each other real life questions, advice and second opinions about medicine.

Over the course of a decade, doctors have built an important medical knowledge bank within SERMO by virtue of those questions and answers.

With over 270,000 verified U.S. physicians from 96 specialties and subspecialties, representing 40 percent of the American medical community, the doctors-only member base closely aligns with national physician demographics, as reported by the AMA.  SERMO harnesses the collective wisdom of physicians, enabling medical crowdsourcing, knowledge sharing and thus the advancement of medicine.

SERMO is the place for real life medicine. It's the meeting of medical minds and hearts.

About SERMO Physician Polls

SERMO posts a poll with a fresh, topical question daily or weekly. Each member can vote once. Questions are generated by the SERMO Community Team, sometimes in coordination with members from the SERMO advisory team. The Community Team processes the results and usually segments responses by specialty. Polls are often posted in the SERMO blog, which is a way for physicians' opinions to be heard about the medical issues of the day.

Who participates in SERMO Polls?

Each poll can receive up to 3,000 votes. Polls are open to all members of the community.  We ask anything from when was your last physical to how do you feel about maintenance of certification courses.  Our polls are one of the most popular areas of our site, they spark plenty of healthy debate and enable doctors to have a voice on important issues. 

To learn more about SERMO, visit http://www.SERMO.com.

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