Entries in Air Travel (2)


10 Airports Most Likely to Spread Disease

Education Images/UIG via Getty Images(BOSTON) -- A new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering focuses on the influence of airports in the spread of pandemics.

Many health-conscious travelers take the time to wash their hands frequently and wipe down their tray table in-flight. But did you realize your health can be affected simply by the airports you frequent, especially if those airports are in New York, Los Angeles or Honolulu?

With SARS and H1N1 a not-so-distant memory, a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering focuses on the influence of airports in the spread of pandemics.

The study differs from previous ones on the topic because it focuses on the first 15 days of a pandemic, rather than the locations that ultimately develop the highest rate of infection. This study seeks to determine how likely the 40 largest U.S. airports are to influence the spread of a contagious disease originating in their home cities.

“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,” says Ruben Juanes, the ARCO Associate Professor in Energy Studies in CEE. “The findings could form the basis for an initial evaluation of vaccine allocation strategies in the event of an outbreak, and could inform national security agencies of the most vulnerable pathways for biological attacks in a densely connected world.”

While the two airports that ranked highest on the list  — New York’s John F. Kennedy and Los Angeles International – may come as no surprise because of their size and the volume of people passing through every day, the airport that ranks third is a bit more interesting. Though Honolulu airport carries only 30 percent as much air traffic as JKF, according to the study, it’s  ”nearly as influential in terms of contagion,” due to its location. The study said its location in the Pacific Ocean and its many connections to distant, large and well-connected hubs earns it the number-three ranking.

  1. John F. Kennedy  (New York City)
  2. Los Angeles International
  3. Honolulu  International Airport
  4. San Francisco International Airport
  5. Newark Liberty International Airport
  6. O’Hare International Airport (Chicago)
  7. Dulles International Airport (Washington, D.C)
  8. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (Atlanta)
  9. Miami International Airport
  10. Dallas-Fort Worth Airport

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Holiday Travel Tip: Be Vigilant On Planes

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Airplanes are notoriously germy places. Studies have shown that airplane bathrooms harbor a number of different types of bacteria and viruses, and the recirculated air in planes can also contain many infectious agents. Germs also lurk on tray tables and on seats and seat backs.

"If you're in a plane, wipe down seats, seat backs and tray tables," said Dr. Lisa Bernstein, associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Travelers should also, as always, wash their hands whenever possible.

A 2009 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that passengers on two lengthy flights into Australia were at increased risk for getting a flu-like illness after the flight if they sat up to two rows away from a person who had flu symptoms before the flight. They were at even higher risk if a symptomatic passenger sat within two seats in front, behind or to the side.

While it may be difficult to control who sits in nearby seats or rows, if a person is sneezing or coughing, try to stay away from that person and disinfect surfaces and hands regularly.

"Also, don't touch your eyes, mouth or nose, since there are only so many times you may be able to wash your hands," said Dr. Michael Perskin, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Spreading germs is a two-way street, so people who may be coughing or sneezing should be careful to avoid coughing or sneezing into other people's faces and should use tissues or hold their mouths when possible. They should also, of course, wash their hands.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio