By Janet Fang
Posting in Cities
MIT scientists have developed a new model that judges airports in terms of their disease spreading influence. Where does your airport rank? Hint: it's not all about size.
In 2003, SARS spread to 37 countries and killed a thousand people; the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic killed about 300,000 people around the world.
Now, scientists have developed a new model of disease contagion that judges airports in terms of their spreading influence. Which ones are likeliest to play major roles in the growth of a pandemic? MIT News reports.
To determine how likely the 40 largest U.S. airports are to influence the spread of a contagious disease originating in those cities, MIT researchers focused on the first few days of an epidemic.
Most models focus on the final stages, examining locations that ultimately developed the highest infection rates. This new approach, however, could help determine measures for containing infection and aid public health officials with decisions on vaccination distribution or treatments in the earliest days of contagion.
To create a tool that predicts where and how fast a disease might spread, they incorporated:
- variations in travel patterns among individuals,
- the geographic locations of airports,
- the disparity in interactions among airports,
- waiting times at individual airports.
Turns out, it’s not about size. Biggest airport hubs (in terms of traffic) aren’t the most influential spreaders of disease.
While the Honolulu airport gets only 30 percent as much air traffic as New York's Kennedy International Airport, the new model predicts that it is nearly as influential in terms of contagion because of where it fits in the air transportation network: its location in the Pacific Ocean and its many connections to distant, large, well-connected hubs makes it third in terms of contagion-spreading influence.
- New York’s Kennedy Airport is ranked first by the model.
- Followed by airports in Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Newark, Chicago (O'Hare), and Washington (Dulles).
- Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which is first in number of flights, ranks 8th in contagion influence.
- Boston's Logan International Airport ranks 15th.
The team was led by Ruben Juanes from MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The work was published in PLoS ONE earlier this month.
[Via MIT News]
Image: Juanes Research Group
Jul 23, 2012
Hmm, the University of Hawaii is trying to get $45 million to build a Bio Lab that the public does not want so now we see this propaganda study to try and justify it?!?! Come on, Honolulu is nowhere near the top of the list for air travel and geographically is the most distant from any other landmass so how again is Honolulu in third place?!?! You people amaze me with your obvious lies.
An unsubstantiated number sprouted about by pharmaceutical companies to increase the sale of their unproven and unsafe vaccines. Please supply your source of this nonsense.
Despite the comments that JFK is dilapidated, that has nothing to do with pandemics. Think about SARS and where it was first identified, it was in Southern China. An American businessman had visited China and had symptoms when he arrived in Singapore, he never made it back to the US. So travel patterns would seem to be less important, unless you count international flights inbound as a travel pattern. I think inbound and outbound routes, and counts are where the numbers are. I remember when I was working in Tokyo, we had to ready a bunch of offices because all the senior managers and their families from Hong Kong and Singapore were temporarily relocated to Tokyo.
So, much for the credibility of this report. Few airports have the varied international traffic that Orlando/Magic Kindom (MCI) has - or the number of disease magnets (children) traveling to it. Mickey always has a cold or the flu.
It looks like Alaska is also well lit on that graphic. Could it be due to the colder weather causing higher rates of contagion proportional to its smaller size? Perhaps the author could provide an update pertinent to that state.
Despite the fact several international flights take off and land to and from NY, JFK has become old and dilapidated. This was a crown jewel at one time bearing the name of one of our most beloved and famous president. Today it is totally neglected and is a shame on NY not to clean up the place or consider renovations to make it one of the best. I happen to pass through once on my way to Europe. Never again I will come to this hellish place. MAYOR BLOOMBERG ARE YOU LISTENING?
What has the physical condition of the airport got to do with pandemic spreading? Also, do you think the Mayor of New York is in charge of JFK?
Physical condition, layout, design, are all aspects affecting disease transmission. Try thinking about it: Two walk ways, one designed without the need for handrails versus one with. Hand touch points are ready made transfer points. For this reason computer keyboards usually host many disease organisms. Another aspect is how air moves through the terminal. Does it go up and out or is it re-circulated or even blown down walkways. Just introduce sneezing coughing people and most people get it. Do you want to enter a hospital that requires you pull open the door with your hand, or would it be safer for people to have automatic doors?