US airport top germ spreader - study

2012-07-27 22:11

New York - New York's John F Kennedy Airport is a teeming hub for international flight - and globe-trotting germs, a new study says.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology paper published this week named JFK as the top of a list of "super-spreaders" in contagious diseases.

Next in the list came Los Angeles International, Honolulu, San Francisco, Newark Liberty, Chicago O'Hare and Washington Dulles, MIT said.

Top germ hub status doesn't actually mean the airports are disease-ridden themselves.

The study instead measured a wide variety of factors contributing to the airports' role in the spread of infectious disease. These include travel patterns, geographic location and waiting times.


The idea was to help understand and predict how viruses like SARS and bird flu get around and prompt epidemics in an ever-more connected world.

"Our work is the first to look at the spatial spreading of contagion processes at early times, and to propose a predictor for which 'nodes' - in this case, airports - will lead to more aggressive spatial spreading," said Ruben Juanes, an energy studies professor.

"The findings could form the basis for an initial evaluation of vaccine allocation strategies in the event of an outbreak, and could inform national security agencies of the most vulnerable pathways for biological attacks in a densely connected world."

The findings can be counter-intuitive.

The likes of Los Angeles and Chicago are well known for their heavy traffic, but Honolulu gets just 30% as much air traffic as New York's JFK.

However, the island airport is "nearly as influential in terms of contagion, because of where it fits in the air transportation network," the report said.

"Its location in the Pacific Ocean and its many connections to distant, large and well-connected hubs gives it a ranking of third in terms of contagion-spreading influence."

  • rude.awakning - 2012-07-27 22:42

    Behold! next we will be told that syrian intellegence and security operatives attempted to spread chemical warfare via this method!

      tuco.angeleyes - 2012-07-28 11:45

      Damn these Terrorist germs are going to make life even more difficult for travellors. they probably armed with tiny WMds.

  • clifton.evans.79 - 2012-07-28 01:03

    This article fails to point out that the MIT report compared only US airports. The NEWS24 spin would imply in error that JFK Airport is the worst worldwide by their omission. (Fact checked against actual report.)

  • gabriela.clark.733 - 2012-07-28 08:49

    my friend's sister-in-law earned $18515 a week ago. she has been working on the internet and bought a $314800 condo. All she did was get fortunate and make use of the instructions laid out on this site

  • herman.kramer.988 - 2012-07-28 09:49

    The Germs also want to go to the "Land of the Free"

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