News / USA

Study Looks at Role Airports Play in Spread of Disease, Pandemics

Study Looks at Role Airports Play in Spread of Disease, Pandemicsi
|| 0:00:00
X
Elizabeth Lee
August 08, 2012 10:48 AM
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have studied the role airports play in spreading disease and pandemics. They found that airports in New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu can spread disease more aggressively than others. Elizabeth Lee has details from Los Angeles.

Study Looks at Role Airports Play in Spread of Disease, Pandemics

Elizabeth Lee
LOS ANGELES — Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have studied the role airports play in spreading disease and pandemics. They found that airports in New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu can spread disease more aggressively than others.  

Airports and planes move more than only people. They have also transported diseases such as influenza, SARS, and turburculosis.   

Yatta Montrell is flying to Hong Kong and Malaysia from Los Angeles. Every time she travels, she worries about getting sick.

“I try to take travelers' shots and carry hand sanitizer,” she said.

Some airports in the United States are able to spread disease more quickly, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

They looked at the volume of traffic, the amount of long-range travel and connections from certain airports. New York’s Kennedy airport and LAX in Los Angeles ranked highest by those measurements.  

Researcher Ruben Juanes was surprised that Honolulu’s smaller airport ranked third in its ability to spread a pandemic. In a Skype interview with VOA, Juanes explains why.

“It’s in the middle of the ocean so virtually every connection is a long-range connection that can take away infected passengers very quickly over many thousands of kilometers. And even though the number of connections is small, a large fraction of them are hubs in Asia or North America,” Juanes stated.

MIT factored in the travel patterns of individuals: the length of their trips and layovers.

Thomas Valente, professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, says the study is a reminder that airports can spread pandemics more easily than other transportation hubs.  

“Airports move people around and, when you’re at an airport, you have time to wait for a plane to leave or if you’re meeting somebody for it to land," said Valente. "So there’s lots of people sitting in close proximity waiting for things to happen.”

Sometimes a traveler catches a disease that originated far from home.

“Not only will we see more pandemics but we are all globally at more risk to things that are happening in other places,” Valente added.

Jonathan Samet heads the Institute for Global Health at the Universtiy of Southern California. “Many infections are spread just simply by people touching the same surfaces that are contaminated," he said. "So on airplanes again bathrooms, doorknobs are places where infections might spread."   

Health experts say frequent handwashing is a precaution travelers can take to prevent illness when they’re on the plane or at the airport.

MIT’s Ruben Juanes says the study may help forecast how disease will spread when another outbreak occurs.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid