When it comes to the ability to spread diseases worldwide, New York's very own little piece of transportation hell, JFK, is number one! According to a new study out of MIT which ranks U.S. airports in terms of their disease-spreading influence, NYC's international airport comes in on top—followed by LAX, Honolulu, SFO, Newark, O'Hare and Dulles—in contagion influence. But to be clear, the airport's cleanliness (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with its ranking.

To come to their conclusions, researchers looked at each airport's location, its links to other airports and how many passengers fly through it, combined with their overall travel patterns. Other major factors included how well-connected locations connecting airports were and how long travelers stayed in a place. You can see the full paper here.

This research could actually have some practical value beyond viral bragging rights, as we do live in an age of SARS, H1N1 and relatively easy international travel:

"Our work is the first to look at the spatial spreading of contagion processes at early times, and to propose a predictor for which 'nodes' — in this case, airports — will lead to more aggressive spatial spreading," says Ruben Juanes, the ARCO Associate Professor in Energy Studies in CEE. "The findings could form the basis for an initial evaluation of vaccine allocation strategies in the event of an outbreak, and could inform national security agencies of the most vulnerable pathways for biological attacks in a densely connected world."

But also bragging rights! Clearly, the Twelve Monkeys outbreak [17-year-old spoiler alert?] would have been even more successful if it had started at JFK and not the Philadelphia airport...