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Airports, germs and contagion networks

A paper from MIT researchers, A Metric of Influential Spreading during Contagion Dynamics through the Air Transportation Network, a study of contagion dynamics shows that airports are among the more hazardous locations on your travel itinerary. Published in PLoS One, the paper is freely downloadable at this link

The authors write: “Characterizing the early-time behavior of epidemic spreading is critical to inform decisions during public-health emergencies, and to design regulations aimed at mitigating global pandemics. Here, we show that subpopulations that act as powerful spreaders of infectious diseases at early times——identified by the TSD during the first 10 days of the contagion—— differ significantly from the central spreaders in terms of the late-time global attack.”


Hal Levin

Hal Levin is a research architect and leads the Building Ecology Research Group in Santa Cruz, CA.

One thought on “Airports, germs and contagion networks

  1. For more on the topic of airport microbes and health, take a look at “Risks to Public Health at Airport Security Checkpoints” http://citizenscientistsleague.com/2011/03/17/risks-to-public-health-at-airport-security-checkpoints/.

    The article claims “…it is well known that the incidence of community methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has increased sharply across the US since the introduction of unsanitary airport screening procedures by the TSA.”

    No research is reported in the article. Rather, it is more of an advocacy for individual rights and privacy and a response to the unpleasant and, at times, intrusive procedures of the TSA. Today, 9/11/2012, is a good time to reflect on the security measures implemented following the events of 11 years ago today.

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