These Are The Airports Most Likely To Start A Pandemic

Photo: Flickr/chaseoblack

When a new or dangerous virus breaks out in a small town in Africa, it isn’t likely to go far. But, if that same disease travels through a large international airport, there’s no way to stop it from spreading to multiple cities.In 2002 the new coronavirus SARS spread to 29 countries in the seven months since the first person was infected. Air travel played an important part in that spread.

Ruben Juanes, a researcher at MIT, published the first model of how a disease would spread through airports in the journal PLoS ONE in July of this year. From that report these are the top 8 airports most likely to fuel a pandemic:

  1. New York (JFK)
  2. Los Angeles (LAX)
  3. Honolulu (HNL) 
  4. San Francisco (SFO)
  5. Newark, NJ (EWR)
  6. Chicago (ORD)
  7. Washington, D.C., Dulles (IAD)
  8. Atlanta (ATL) 

Interestingly, the number of passengers per day isn’t the most important feature for an airport to be able to spread disease. Find out why in Discover Magazine.

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