My kinda research report…I just arrived in Honolulu tonight to work for the next four days and I get an email from a friend who sends me the link to this story…I love it!
Apparently MIT researchers have analyzed which airport hubs would be key to spreading a virulent disease. In a paper published July 23 in the journal PLoS One, these researchers outlined a new computer model that predicts how the 40 largest American airports may contribute to the diffusion of contagious disease within the first few days of a potential epidemic. How cool is that?!!?!?!?
The top three airports? New York’s John F Kennedy airport and Los Angeles’s airports will likely be the key spreaders of disease. Those are likely not a surprise however the third might be… Honolulu International. The third most outbreak-friendly airport in the states is far smaller and a lot less obvious but it has great qualities to spread disease.
Factors other than sheer volume of travelers may contribute to the spread of disease. There are critical factors to look at: Connectivity, traffic and geography. And Honolulu airport combines these three important features that catalyze contagion spreading. Its geographical positioning in the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes it a prime layover between the US west coast and large Asian hubs; it’s also “well connected” to other powerful spreader airports, such as LAX; and it sees a high volume of long-range travel; all of which would help to spread a disease outbreak.
As I look out my window across Waikiki Beach, I find myself thinking of all the things I might have touched at the airport…Gulp! I think I’ll go wash my hands again!