Research analyzes spread of disease through airports

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jul 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-27 18:35:37-04

NEW YORK (WTVR)—If you’re traveling by plane this summer, you might get a souvenir you don’t want, according to research from M.I.T. that shows globe-trotting germs lurk at major airports.

Researchers looked at 40 of the largest airports to figure out which are most likely to spread a disease in the event of an outbreak in their cities. They studied the dynamics of disease spreading through the air transportation network.

New York’s John F. Kennedy airport topped the list as the super spreader of the most contagious diseases.  Los Angeles International airport flew into the number two spot.

The third airport on the list might come as a surprise– Honolulu International.

Researchers said it’s because of Hawaii’s location in the Pacific Ocean, with many connections to distant, large and well-connected hubs.

Public health crises like the SARS outbreak have shown how easy it is for diseases to travel.

Researchers said this information can help determine ways to contain an infection or steer treatment and vaccination decisions in the early stages.

For a more complex read, the study appeared in the journal PLoS ONE.