What Is “Airport Malaria?”

Image: Patrick Nouhailler, CC BY-SA 2.0

These are the most disease prone airports in the world

| “Airport malaria refers to malaria caused by infected mosquitoes that are transported rapidly by aircraft from a malaria-endemic country to a non-endemic country. If the local conditions allow their survival, they can bite local residents who can thus acquire malaria without having traveled abroad.” – Source: CDC 

March 21, 2019

The Points Guy – When it comes to spreading disease, not all airports are created equal.

The role air-travel hubs play in the spread of contagion is already well known — there’s even a specific strain of malaria called airport malaria, spread by a kind of disease-carrying mosquito that sneaks onto planes and infects flyers and people who live near airports.

Certain airports, though, are prime suspects when it comes to being accomplices to epidemics, the gateways by which viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing nasties travel from person to person, city to city and country to country alongside unwitting business and leisure passengers. But the most dangerous airports are not always the ones you’d think.

A study by a research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the biggest airports in the United States, at least in terms of passenger volume, aren’t actually necessarily the most likely to become the prime movers of a pandemic (an epidemic that spans the globe). How to Spot And Avoid Sick Air Travelers

“JFK is a very influential spreader, for instance, because it has high traffic and many long-distance connections worldwide, but unexpectedly, Hawaii is a very influential spot for starting a disease,” lead researcher Christos Nicolaides, a fellow at the MIT Sloan School of Management and lecturer in business and public administration at the University of Cyprus, said in a telephone interview.

In the study, the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL), ranked only No. 8 on the top 10 list of airports that would spread disease.

Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International (HNL), on the other hand, ranked No. 3, behind only Los Angeles International (LAX) and New York-JFK, which was No. 1.

To further highlight how irrelevant passenger volume was in the rankings, consider this: According to the Department of Transportation, ATL saw around 90 million passengers in 2017; HNL saw fewer than 15 million in the same period, or less than a sixth of Atlanta’s traffic.

So what did matter, according to Nicolaides? Just like the old real-estate saw, it’s all about location, location, location … Read more. 

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