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Congressman Concerned Whether Ebola Has Mutated, Spread Possibly "By Airborne"

But Rep. Jeff Duncan says he does know what works to stop it: "closed borders and quarantine."

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A Republican congressman calling for a travel ban on West African nations suffering from the Ebola virus questions if the Ebola can be "spread by airborne," contradicting information from health officials and even an Ebola fact sheet on the congressman's own website.

Speaking with WCRS radio host Anne Eller, South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan said Friday that while "we think we know" Ebola is a virus but don't know if it is mutating and can be spread through the air.

"We also have an infectious disease, Ebola," said Duncan. "And we don't know what we don't know about Ebola. We think we know it's a virus, but we don't know, is it mutating? Can it be spread by airborne?"

Duncan said while we think we know it's a virus and don't know if it's spread through air he does know a travel ban and quarantine would work to contain the virus.

"I do know what works and that is closed borders and quarantine. Those are two simple things that the neighboring countries in Africa, neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the other West African countries that have Ebola outbreaks ... they've shut their borders down. They don't allow anybody from those countries to travel. They also allow a quarantine to happen for a minimum of 21 days."

U.S. and international health officials, however, have repeatedly said there is no evidence that Ebola can be spread through the air, even little chance if a victim coughs or sneezes on another person.

Still, 85% of Americans said in a recent Harvard School of Public Health poll they thought you'd be "likely" to catch Ebola if you were coughed or sneezed on by someone who had the virus.

Dr. Ron Behrens, a senior lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine previously told BuzzFeed News "there's no evidence for that at all."

"Theoretically, viruses mutate," Behrens told BuzzFeed News. "There's been no strong evidence that there's been significant mutation in the virus over the last 30 or 40 years. It's very unlikely to be a problem in such a short time scale."

Republican Rep. Peter King of New York also recently suggested in a radio interview Ebola could have mutated and gone airborne.

This post has been updated.

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.

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