Hartsfield Jackson avoids top spot on MIT's new "outbreak danger" list

7:31 PM, Jul 26, 2012   |    comments
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Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

ATLANTA -- H1N1. Remember that? The flu pandemic killed about 300,000 people world wide and put airports on high alert to avoid further spreading the virus. Now, an MIT study says it knows which airports are most likely to play a major role in spreading a deadly virus or bacteria.

Hartsfield Jackson International Airport is the busiest but according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, it's not the most dangerous.  

In a pandemic scenario, New York's JFK, LAX in Los Angeles and Honolulu International in Hawaii would be more influential in spreading an outbereak.  Hartsfield Jackson barely made the top 10, coming in at #8 on the list.

Why so low?  Researchers in the school's department of civil and environmental engineering studied three years of travel data and months of individual travel itineraries to create a new mathematical model to predict the potential spread of a virus or bacteria.  Based off that, it found Atlanta to be less influential because much of its traffic is regional, the flights are shorter and lead to smaller airports with less influence.  

Honolulu while a much smaller airport ranks high because its flights are longer, they go to other well-connected hubs and travel equally to the east and west.

Researchers say their data isn't meant to scare anyone. Instead they hope it will help organizations like the CDC find ways to better contain infections or deliver vaccines in the early stages of a pandemic.

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