Pathogen airports

Like people, contagious diseases use airports to jump around the world.
Photo illustration by Juanes Research Group (USA)
Date:1 February 2013 Tags:, , , , ,

Like people, contagious diseases use airports to jump around the world. MIT researchers this year published results from an air-travel model determining which US airports would be the major hubs during an outbreak’s initial stages. – Alex Hutchinson and Joe Pappalardo

Honolulu International
Honolulu

This hub came in at No 3 on the list. Reasons: the Pacific is home to many emerging diseases, and the airport is a pass-through for travellers to and from far-flung Pacific nations.

O’Hare International
Chicago

Notorious for flight delays, O’Hare presents a higher risk of infection because of travellers spending extended periods together in the airport.

Hartsfield-Jackson International
Atlanta

There is more to the list than passenger volume. Atlanta’s airport boasts America’s highest number of passengers but ranks only eighth on MIT’s list.

John F Kennedy International  
New York

Ranks No 1 as a “super spreader” in part because travellers using the airport tend to stay in the area longer between flights, increasing possible exposure to disease.