Republican Rep. Peter King thinks the doctors are wrong on Ebola, suggesting the deadly virus might have mutated and gone airborne in an interview with Long Island News Radio last week.
"You know my attitude was it's important not to create a panic and it's important not to overreact and the doctors were absolutely certain that this can not be transmitted and it was not airborne and yet we find out the people who have contracted it were wearing all protective gear," said King.
King was citing the two nurses who became infected with Ebola while caring for the first patient diagnosed in the United States.
CDC officials have said the nurses were wearing the recommended protective gear but blamed a "protocol breach," for the infections in comments that have drawn sharp criticism from the nursing community.
King says he believes "the doctors have been" wrong on Ebola, citing the 2001 anthrax attacks and initial statements from the Center for Disease Control about them, to be wary of pronouncements on the Ebola virus.
"I'm thinking suppose that person did not know he or she had Ebola and was on the New York City Subway system, the Long Island Railroad, you were sitting next to them without wearing protective gear. What would happen to you. So I think the doctors have been wrong. I don't think it was any conspiracy, I think they have been wrong."
One of the Ebola-infected Dallas nurses, Amber Vinson, travelled to Cleveland and back on an airplane after developing symptoms including a fever. So far no one who came into contact with Vinson has developed the virus.
Her family said Wednesday night she was free of the virus after receiving care in Emory University Hospital.
"It's time for the doctor's to realize that they were wrong and figure out why they were wrong. Maybe this is a mutated form of the virus," adds King later in the interview.
King says he doesn't "blame doctors or the medical profession" for "not being up to date on the latest mutation," but says he wishes they were less definite in their pronouncements about the virus.
"Listen, I don't blame doctors or the medical profession for not being up to date on the latest mutation," says King. "I mean, they should try to be and they should work at it but less I think they should be less definite when they make these pronouncements. That there is absolutely nothing to worry about, this can't be transmitted airborne, that there's nothing to worry about."
Health officials have been clear: There is no evidence the Ebola virus is airborne. And it can't be caught from people coughing and sneezing. The virus is spread through a person's broken skin or mucous membranes coming into contact with bodily fluids of ill people, dead bodies, or those of infected animals.
In a recent Harvard School of Public Health, though, 85% of Americans polled said 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."
King in the interview said he believes it's better for doctors to be "less definite" when doctors make pronouncements.
"What happens when you see somebody wearing this protective gear coming down and almost dying from the disease then think, 'Well, how about me? How about if I'm next to them in a plane? How about if I'm next to them in a supermarket? How about if I'm next to them in a dentist's office, without any protective gear on? And then people start panicking and people start assuming the worst and it creates the panic that doctors are trying to avoid in the first place," he said.
King went on to say that while he has a lot of respect for doctors, medical health professionals make too firm of pronouncements that don't allow for adaptability.
"If there's one mistake doctors make it's to think that medicine is an absolute science. And that they make these pronouncements without any fear of being wrong," he said. "Being in politics you have assume that half the time you're going to be wrong."
"So, in many ways it makes you more equipped for life's problems, you can adapt more quickly," King went on. "I think doctors are so certain of their theories and they think their theories are fact. And so when something does go wrong they're not as quick to adapt as they should be and they keep holding on to the old views too long."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
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