JFK Airport ‘super-spreader’ of contagious diseases

Globe-trotting germs feel at home at New York’s bustling John F Kennedy Airport, which tops the list of ‘super-spreaders’ in contagious diseases along with other US aerodromes, a new study has said.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology paper published this week named JFK at the top followed by airports in Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Newark, Chicago (O’Hare) and Washington (Dulles) as top germ hubs. The team from MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering looked at the 40 largest American airports to determine what role they may play in spreading contagious diseases, the Medical Daily reported.

With SARS in 2003 or H1N1 making the news in 2009 and currently, a disease can spread rather quickly thanks to how connected airports are. JFK airport was the airport most likely to play a role in spreading a pandemic.

Not only is JFK a gateway to a large city, New York City, it has connecting flights to every part of the globe.

The researchers evaluated airport location, number of connections as well as waiting times to create the mathematical models that determine how fast a disease could spread in 15 days from the airport. ‘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,’ Ruben Juanes, an energy studies professor, said.
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