N.Y., L.A. and Washington Airports Most Dangerous for Pandemic Spread in U.S.

Airports in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington are most likely to play a major role in the spread of a pandemic, according to a new study.

Recent global public health crises—such as the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic that killed about 300,000 worldwide—have increased awareness about how air travel can help quickly spread dangerous bacteria and viruses around the world.

In this study, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used a new mathematical model to determine how the 40 largest U.S. airports would influence the spread of a contagious disease that originated in the cities where the airports are located.

Investigators believe John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City would have the most influence, followed by airports in Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Newark, Chicago and Washington, D.C. (Dulles).

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