If a disease is to spread across the country, JFK Airport will most likely be the starting point.
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study looked at the 40 largest airports in the country to determine the most likely to spread a contagion throughout the nation, with JFK topping the list.
The Queens airport’s ranking had nothing to do with sick passengers or cleanliness — though waiting times were considered — but with how a disease may advance to other parts of the world.
“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 MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The spread of disease was compared to the dissemination of information over social networks and the connectivity of JFK’s connecting airports vaulted it to the top of the list.
The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, was done to help determine measures for containing infections and distributing vaccinations in the early days of a contagion.
JFK is followed on the list by Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Newark, O’Hare and Dulles.